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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baien no Sato


Baien no Sato is an onsen resort in the remote Kunisaki Peninsula of northern Oita, located on a mountain ridge in the southern part of the peninsula, somewhat north of Kitsuki.

Baien no Sato.

As well as a hotel there is also a campsite and comfortable two storey, self catering log houses.

The rooms in the hotel are all Japanese-style with tatami and futons, and they all have en-suite toilets. The rooms have great views down into the valley below.

Baien no Sato, Oita Prefecture.

The onsen is nice, with large pools and a sauna.

The food is seasonal and delicious.

I paid 8,800 yen for a room for myself including the delicious evening meal and breakfast.

What sets Baien no sato apart from other accomodation in the area is that it has an astronomical observatory with the second largest telescope in Kyushu, and guests have access to it under normal conditions.

Baien no Sato, Kitsuki, Oita.

The restaurant, onsen, and telescope are all available for non-residents.

The name Baien comes from Baien Miura (1723-1789), a Japanese philosopher of the 18th century who was influenced by western thinking, especially in the area of science. His former home and a museum dedicated to him are located just below the resort.

Two buses a day stop at the onsen, and three stop in the valley below, but the whole area is best accessed by private car or hire car.

Baien no Sato
2233 Akimachi Tomikiyo
Oita 873-0355
Tel: 0978 64 6300

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Japan News This Week 14 January 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japanese Comedian Who Used Blackface Comes Under Fire Online
New York Times

Okinawa tension: US apologises to Japan over repeat accidents

Civic group proposes bill for Japan to exit nuclear power
The Mainichi

Japanese kayaker banned eight years for spiking rival's drink

Japan's Bomb in the Basement
Asia Times

Gunkanjima / Battleship Island, Nagasaki: World Heritage Historical Site or Urban Ruins Tourist Attraction?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In the Japanese diapers market, sales of adult diapers now surpasses that of the infant diaper market. In 2010, sales of children's diapers totaled 1530 billion yen (roughly USD $135 million). Adult diapers sold 1440 billion yen (USD $127 million). By 2012, adult diapers were selling more than child diapers.

Source: Hakur

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Japanese Anime in Sao Paulo

サンパウロ アニメ

Japan Town, Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Brazil has the world's biggest ethnic Japanese population outside of Japan. Most of the immigration to Brazil to Japan happened in the 1930s, during the Great Depression before the Second World War. Most Japanese immigrants were from rural Japan, and took up agriculture in Brazil, becoming a prominent presence in Brazilian farming, and introducing to Brazil many varieties of vegetables from Japan, such as Japanese pumpkins, cucumber, melons, and Fuji apples, to name a few.

"Yakissoba" on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
"Yakissoba" on Rua Galvão Bueno (requiring two S's in Portuguese for an "S" sound, as opposed to a single-S "Z" sound)

Over time, there was migration to the cities by the descendants of the original immigrants, mainly to Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo.

Lucky Cat Japanese store in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Lucky Cat Japanese store in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Japan store in a mall in Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Japan store in a mall on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The Liberdade area of Sao Paulo is the most Japanese part of the city, with its own Japan Town, immediately noticeable by the number of stores with Japanese names, often selling Japanese-style goods, and, maybe most memorably, the pedestrian signals for crossing the street in this district, which feature a green and a red torii shrine gate symbol, and the red street light poles which are also fashioned somewhat torii-like in how they extend over the street.

Torii-themed traffic crossing lights in Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Torii arch-themed traffic crossing lights in Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Emporio Azuki, Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Emporio Azuki, Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The district is known for its numerous Japanese restaurants, grocers, Japanese gift stores, and martial arts goods.

Anime Hunter store on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Anime Hunter store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Plastic anime figurines in a Japan-themed shopping mall on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Plastic anime figurines in Japan Town, Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

Rua Galvão Bueno is the main shopping street that runs through Japan Town in Sao Paulo, and there is one shopping center in particular, with a big Japanese-style facade, at nos.17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, that is home to several anime-related stores. On sale are anime figurines, anime-themed T-shirts, among other paraphernalia.

Kawaii goods from Japan, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Kawaii goods from Japan in a store window in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

At the far end of Rua Galvão Bueno is a small garden, Jardim Oriental: a nice idea for a bit of greenery in this very urban area, but which sounds better than it looks.

Anime-themed T-shirts, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Anime-themed T-shirts, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Murakai Japanese goods store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Murakai Japanese goods store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The red arch-like streetlights extend all the way down Rua Galvão Bueno past Jardim Oriental after you cross the bridge over the massive Viaduto do Glicerio motorway that lies below. However, once you're over the bridge, the shopping buzz pretty much fizzles, with just a few Japanese presences intermittently visible down it.

Shimada Tattoo parlor, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Shimada Tattoo parlor, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

So if you find yourself in Sao Paulo, make sure you include a stroll through Liberdade, accessible from the station by the same name, on Metro Line 1. Tanoshinde! (Enjoy!)

Towa Japanese grocery, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Towa Japanese grocer, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Liberdade district - Japan in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Liberdade district - Japan in Sao Paulo.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

47Regions Manhole T-shirts

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

Visiting Japan can often be a vertical experience. From the majestic peak of Mount Fuji, to the skyscrapers of Tokyo, without forgetting the cherry blossoms in the spring, people find themselves looking up to experience Japanese culture and sights. The mountains of Nagano, the phone wires of suburbs, cranes flying over beautiful gardens. It is easy to forget that there is a whole world to discover at our feet, literally.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts

The reality is that being a tourist can be overwhelming in a country like Japan. There is so much to see, to taste, to take in, that experiences are often sensory-overload! However, a big part of Japanese culture lies in the essence of the delicate, of fine details.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

After living in Japan for years, people develop a great sensibility for those details, and appreciating the simple things, rather than the big "culture shock" moments. The appreciation of a simpler form of beauty, and the idea of a world hidden at our feet are the foundations behind the project that has become 47Regions.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

Manholes aren't something that catch people's eyes, especially when they're outshone by the environment they're surrounded by. 47Regions wants to put a spotlight on the amazing pieces of art that are Japanese manholes. They're colourful, they represent their cities and regions in ever creative ways, and they're at their very core super Japanese and interesting! 47Regions aims to capture Japanese manholes and put them on t-shirts; what better way to "elevate" manholes, and give a way for people to show their appreciation and love of Japanese culture, even to the smallest of details.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

You might not notice the manholes you walk on, but you'll certainly notice 47Regions t-shirts! Hand-made in Tokyo by passionate Irishmen, they're the perfect gift for any Japan enthusiast.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Japan News This Week 7 January 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japan's Emperor Greets Cheering Crowd at Palace for New Year
New York Times

The Castle that Defied History

Couple hit with fresh arrest warrant over death of daughter kept in tiny room for 15 years
The Mainichi

Raze, rebuild, repeat: why Japan knocks down its houses after 30 years

Japan mulls deploying F-35B fighters on helicopter carrier
Asia Times

The Fukushima Fiction Film: Gender and the Discourse of Nuclear Containment
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In the 2015 PISA tests of 15-year-olds around the world, a question asked, "Are you adequately satisfied" with your life. The 47 OECD member states/regions Happiness Ranking is noted here:

1. Dominican Republic, 67.8%
2. Mexico, 58.5%
3. Costa Rica, 58.4%
4. Colombia, 50.9%
5. Montenegro, 50.1%

26. USA, 35.9%
27. Germany, 34%

38. UK, 28.3%
39. Beijing/Shanghai, 26.9%
40. Turkey, 26.3%
41. Greece, 26.2%
42. Italy, 24.2%
43. Japan, 23.8%
44. South Korea, 18.6%
45. Taiwan, 18.5%
46. Macao, 16.5%
47. Hong Kong, 13.9%

Source: Asahi Shinbun, January 1, 2018, page 9.

© JapanVisitor.com

Saturday, January 06, 2018

An Introduction to Yōkai Culture: Monsters Ghosts and Outsiders in Japanese History

by Komatsu Kazuhiko (Author), Hiroko Yoda & Matt Alt (Translators)

Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture (JPIC), 2017
ISBN: 978-4-916055-80-4
Hardback, 196 pp

This book is an example of the growing trend of translating academic Japanese texts into English. This is a trend to be welcomed, because it adds to the richness of the intercultural knowledge base, but this particular work is not without its frustrations.
Komatsu has tried to write an accessible cultural-anthropological guide to yōkai culture - the colourful folklore of Japan's monsters, ghosts and goblins that he rightly sees as embodying more general Japanese cultural beliefs - yet his style veers between curious non sequiturs of overgeneralization and an academic's fastidiousness that often results in him reeling off lists of academic articles likely unavailable in English.
The latter issue can be excused given the text's origins, but the former is a real barrier to readability. Here is one example. Having clearly described the general characteristics of one of the most well-known types of yōkai creature, the kappa, as "child-sized humanoids, with shells on their backs, and dish-shaped indentations atop their heads, filled with water", Komatsu then unnecessarily states: "On the other hand, a strange waterside presence without these characteristics would not have been identified as a kappa." But within a few sentences, this apparent truism is contradicted by another sweeping statement: "Any strange creatures that appeared in or around water were labeled kappa…."
Despite being accompanied by a handsome collection of illustrations, such confused prose frequently dulls the point of Komatsu's research, sadly limiting the appeal of this volume to only the most persistent yōkai fans. Such an introduction needs to be extensively reworked to be palatable for the English lay-reader. Instead, the average punter with an interest in Japan's eerie folk culture would do better to begin with the earlier work of Komatsu's translators Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt, who put together the much more accessible guide Yōkai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide.

Richard Donovan

Buy this book from Amazon USA | UK | Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Thoughts About Japan's Waterways

When I first visited Japan I was surprised by the amount of advertising nearly everywhere I looked. Even in a lonesome rural area, on a long trip by rail, I could gaze out at the view and see signs promoting "727" brand cosmetics.

727 brand cosmetics.

But impressively, Japan had vast amounts of water - beautiful rivers and streams - and I was fascinated at the sight. I had to touch it.

In Gifu I put my hands in a small stream near the castle, while in Iwakuni I waded in the river below the famous bridge.

Wading in Iwakuni.

In Gujo Hachiman I could drink the water! Where I reside, in Southern California, the weather is commonly dry and warm.

Iwakuni Bridge.

Recently this blog listed the annual hours of sunshine for an assortment of world cities, including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Los Angeles. Of course (sigh) we have the most sun hours of all. Yes, sunshine is nice and I do appreciate it, but I wish we could get more rain than we have so far this season, which has been next-to-nothing.

Charlton Heston in Soylent Green.

I can image global warming here as being somewhat akin to the world portrayed in the 1973 film "Soylent Green." (Now, wait a minute, don't look shocked.). Charlton Heston makes his way through this movie looking perpetually hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable, and this is PRIOR to making his shocking discovery.

I like to view Japan's travel web cameras (recommend: www.shimogo-live.jp and Lake Ashi at www.hakone.or.jp) and often the scenic view has water. Over time, through my numerous searches I have learned that all of Japan's waterways are on camera. I venture the guess that the reason is due to potential flooding. The cameras keep an eye on the water's state of activity.

Water in the USA.

I hope to visit Japan in the spring time and enjoy these beautiful streams and rivers, even if I'm being watched.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Japan News This Week 31 December 2017


Japan News This Week.

Deal With Japan on Former Sex Slaves Failed Victims, South Korean Panel Says
New York Times

Beethoven's Ninth: 10,000 singers for Japan's Christmas song

Ex-yokozuna Harumafuji to face summary indictment as early as Thursday
The Mainichi

Fears of another Fukushima as Tepco plans to restart world's biggest nuclear plant

How Sea Shepherd lost battle against Japan’s whale hunters in Antarctic

Probe casts shadow over ‘comfort women’ deal
Asia Times

The Fukushima Fiction Film: Gender and the Discourse of Nuclear Containment
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


On Wednesday, December 27, Taro Aso became the second-longest-serving finance minister in the post-World War II period. That day marked his 1,828th day in office.

The longest-serving finance minister is Kiichi Miyazawa, who spent 1,874 days as Finance Minister.

Asa should overtake Miyazawa on February 12, 2018.

Source: Japan News, December 28, page 3.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, December 29, 2017

Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum


Kabutocho is where the Tokyo Stock Exchange is, and this area, along with the adjacent Kayabacho district, in Tokyo's Chuo ward, has been a lively part of Tokyo, with strong business associations, ever since the land here was reclaimed from Tokyo Bay in the 17th century, from shortly after the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603.

Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, Sakamotocho Park, Kabuotcho, Chuo ward, Tokyo.
Lighting up a corner of the park: the Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, inside Sakamotocho Park.

This afternoon I was walking through the bleak Sakamotocho Park in Chuo ward. Sakamotocho Park dates from 1889 and was apparently the first small park to be created in downtown Tokyo, but it has nothing to show for its venerable history, being an ugly stretch of dirt with a small patch of basic playthings, and an equally ugly prefab elementary school. Again, in a sad commentary on how the ruthless practicalities of life in Japan often run roughshod over the historical significance of places and things, this drab, cheaply built school that looks more like a temporary warehouse was where the great novelist Tanizaki Jun'ichiro (born in nearby Ningyocho) was once a pupil.

Entrance to the Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, Nihonbashi-kabutocho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.
Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum entrance.

Coming to the other side of the park, what looked like a colorful shop window caught my eye. It seemed an odd place for a store, and on closer inspection I discovered that it was not a retail outlet at all, but a tiny museum, chockablock with ornate Shinto-festival-related paraphernalia, giving off a wonderfully luxuriant golden glow, cheering up a corner of this dismal park.

Beautiful omikoshi portable shrine, Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, Nihonbashi-kabutocho, Chuo ward, Tokyo.
Omikoshi portable shrine at the Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum

Inside the Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, on full display through big department-store-style plate glass windows, are four portable shrines and a festival float on wheels used in local Shinto festivals. The festivals are associated with the main Shinto shrine in the area, Hie Shrine Nihonbashi Sessha, just a little north-east across Route 10, and which was established in the early-to-mid 17th century as a sessha auxiliary shrine to the main Hie Shrine in Tokyo's Akasaka district.

There is also a display of antique photographs, and traditional hanten jackets (made of leather rather than the normal cotton) that, back in the day, were used as protective wear by the local fire brigade. Local fire brigades in Japan, made up of volunteer members of the community, took an active part in the neighborhood festivals. (The Nihonbashi Fire Station is near the park.)

Festive gold lion mask belonging to the Kayabasho 1-chome neighborhood.
Festive gold lion mask belonging to the Kayabasho 1-chome neighborhood.

The big festival float is the prize exhibit here, and is distinguished for being topped by a samurai-style helmet (i.e., a kabuto, after which the Kabuto-cho area is named) instead of the usual phoenix. The portable shrine (o-mikoshi, carried aloft on poles rather than wheeled around) used by the Kabutocho neighborhood sports not an actual helmet, but the kanji for "helmet" (kabuto), as well as ornaments in the shape of the kabuto character.

Portable shrine of the Kabuocho neighborhood association, on display at the Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, Nihonbashi-kabutocho, Chuo ward, Tokyo.
Portable shrine of the Kabuocho neighborhood association

All the portable shrines here are exquisitely and gorgeously designed and decorated. The one for the Kabutocho neighborhood, dating from the 1920s, has white dragons depicted writhing up and around it, while others take more closely after a Shinto shrine, with black lacquered roofs.

The Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum probably won't ever make it to the mainstream guides on Tokyo and, unless you're a local Japanese festivals aficionado, you won't feel you're missing much if you don't make it here; but, it's a must-see if you're in the Kabutocho-Kayabacho neighborhood, both for its historical interest and for the fascinating little island of antique glamor that it forms in the middle of one of Tokyo's glummest townscapes.

Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum from eastern side of Sakamotocho Park, Chuo ward, Tokyo..
Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum, seen from the eastern end of Sakamotocho Park.

Kabutocho and Kayabacho Machikado Museum
Nihonbashi-kabutocho 15-3, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Open daily, 8:30am-8pm.
2-minute walk from Exit 12 of Kayabacho Station (Tozai Subway Line and Hibiya Subway Line)
Free entry.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Traditional Industries of Kyoto The Art of Stone Carving


Stone working is believed to have begun in Japan during the Tumulus Period and developed with the introduction and spread of Buddhism throughout Japan.

The Art of Stone Carving.

Good quality granite mined in the Mt. Hiei and Shirakawa sections of Kyoto, combined with the spare aesthetic of the tea ceremony, resulted in the development of a highly refined stone working culture in Kyoto.

The center of much of the Japanese stone working world continues to live on in Kyoto. The relationship between people and stone can be traced back to the Stone Age (Paleolithic Period) but stone was used then primarily to make implements for daily life.

According to the late Masataro Kawakatsu, the oldest reference to stonemasonry as a vocation appears in the Kojiki (records of Ancient Matters) and in a chapter of the "Shinsen Seishiroku" where it is written that "in the reign of the Emperor Suishin, a stone coffin was made and presented to the Empress, and for this the maker was granted the name Ishisakube-Renko."

Following the transfer of the capital to Kyoto, stone workmanship played a key role in the building of the Imperial Palace (Gosho). Though soft stone was in general use at this time, granite was employed for the foundation stones and some parts of the structure.

Later, under the flourishing expansion of Japanese Buddhism, importance was attached to stone as a material of special religious significance. As part of this process, stone working tools were developed, resulting in new kinds of stonemasonry, stone Buddhist images, stone towers, stepping stones and stone lanterns.

The Kamakura Period, in particular, is regarded as the formative period for stone (and wood) sculpture and work. With the rise of tea ceremony culture, new stone working techniques and designs appeared. Devotees of the tea ceremony found 'wabi' (a taste for the simple and quiet) and 'sabi' (a taste for the old and timeless patina of beauty) in the world of old stonework.

Given that the relics of the past could not meet the demands of the growing culture of tea ceremony, work in stone lanterns, water basins, and multi-tiered ceremonial towers flourished, especially in Kyoto.

Today, the members of the Kyoto Stone Industry Cooperative Association (established in 1891) play an important role in supplying the special landscaping and ceremonial requirements of Kyoto's many gardens and cemeteries.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Japan News This Week 24 December 2017


Japan News This Week.

For Kitasan Black, the Finish Line Draws Near
New York Times

Scientists Say Japanese Monkeys Are Having 'Sexual Interactions' With Deer

Drive Through Funerals in Japan

LDP divided over how far war-renouncing Article 9 should be changed
The Mainichi

Japan buys US missile defence system to counter North Korean threat

Two Faces of the Hate Korean Campaign in Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The percentage of undergraduate female students at Tokyo University is 19%. At Japan's number 2 school, Kyoto University, the percentage of women is 22%.

Source: Kyoto University HP Data

At Harvard and most elite colleges in the US - except for MIT, CalTech, etc. - the trend in the last two decades has been the opposite direction. Harvard's undergraduate student body is 53% female.

Source: College Vine

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nihonmachi Japanese Mall in Bangkok

日本街 バンコック

Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand
Nihonmachi Dining Mall, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok
Bangkok's Sukhumvit 26 district has one of the Thai capital's most well-known oases of Japaneseness, the Nihonmachi mall.

Sign at the entrance to Nihonmachi, Bangkok, Thailand
Entrance sign, Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand
Nihonmachi opened in 2010, and for the past seven years has been providing Bangkok with the colors and flavors of Japan, with its approximately 20 restaurants.

Paper chochin lanterns, Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand
Chochin paper lnterns, Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok
We were in Bangkok last weekend and wandered through Nihonmachi mall at round about noon on Saturday. Even though it opens at 10:30am, we were too early. There were still very few people there. We figured it must be one of those places that gets going later in the day, maybe more a late-lunch or dinner place.

Restaurant specializing in Hokkaido cuisine, Nihonmachi dining mall, Bangkok
Genshiyaki Hokkaido restaurant
From the kanji-style fonts, and actual kanji signs, to the chochin paper lanterns, to the menu boards out front, it all feels authentically Japanese.

Japanese crest and sakura cherry blossom, Nihonmachi, Bangkok, Thailand.
Restaurant in Nihonmachi featuring Japanese family crest and cherry blossom
The restaurants at the two-floor Nihonmachi do not pretend to be haute cuisine. It is good, solid unpretentious fare like yakitori, yakiniku, gyudon and sukiyaki - and even a Korean restaurant. Many of the restaurants here feature regional Japanese fare, most notably from Hokkaido and Okinawa.

Tokyo Hustler restaurant, Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit district, Bangkok, Thailand.
Tokyo Hustler restaurant, Nihonmachi, Sukhumvit district, Bangkok, Thailand.
This spacious, up-to-date dining mall is a great place to dine and hang out if you're in Bangkok and feel like a bite of Japanese.

The nearest station to Nihonmachi is the BTS Phrom Phong Station.

115 Soi Sukhumvit 26, Sukhumvit Rd.
Bangkok, Thailand

Hours: 10:30am-10pm

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Naniwa Ryokan


Naniwa Ryokan is in the small town of Yokota, deep in the Okuizumo region of Shimane, and a perfect location for exploring the surrounding areas attractions like the Sword & Tatara Museum just a ten minute walk away or the magnificent Mount Hiba an hour away by train.

Naniwa Ryokan.

They have 8 rooms ranging in size from 4 tatami to 10 tatami and have all the standard facilities though the shared toilets are western-style. It was also the hottest bath I've ever had in a ryokan.

Naniwa Ryokan.

The food is delicious, fresh, and seasonal. The free wifi had a strong signal. Prices start at 5000 yen per person.

Naniwa Ryokan is located just 50 meters from JR Izumo-Yokota Station on the Kisiki Line.

Naniwa Ryokan
1024-3 Yokota, Okuizumo-cho
Nita-gun, Shimane 699-1832
Tel: 0854 52 1014

JR Izumo-Yokota Station.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Japan News This Week 17 December 2017


Japan News This Week.

Destroyed in Tsunami, Temple is Reborn
New York Times

Japan's Babe Ruth Is The Latest Japanese Player To Sign With MLB Team

'Lonely gifs' by Motocross Saito celebrate solitude in Japan

Object from US military helicopter falls onto elementary school in Okinawa
The Mainichi

'Not ashamed': dolphin hunters of Taiji break silence over film The Cove

Japanese kanji of the year is 'north' – thanks to Kim Jong-un

The War on Games
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Annual Hours of Sunshine, World Cities

Tokyo 1,876
Seoul 2,065
Taipei 1,405
Beijing 2,670
Shanghai 1,775
New York 2,534
London 1,633
Paris 1,662
Barcelona 2,591
LA 3,254

Source: Wikipedia

Kyoto 1,798

Source: DIY Solar and Eco Life

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Kure: The Happiness Behind the Giving

Kanji began as pictograms. Kanji convey little information about pronunciation (even less than English spelling does!), but are all about conveying representing things by way of their shape. Well, at least that's the idea. Those original shapes, conceived thousands of years ago in China, have changed considerably, morphing into logograms, and are now representative only in a very abstract way.

Some kanji retain that pictographic sense of direct representation. Ones that immediately come to mind are 一 (ichi in Japanese) for one, 口 (kuchi) for mouth, 門 (mon) for gate, 田 (ta) for ricefield, and 竹 (take) for bamboo. You look at them and think, "OK, I get it."

But even if you don't "get it" at first sight, kanji have a way of insinuating themselves and coming to feel like very natural ways of conveying a particular thing or concept pretty soon after you've gotten to know them.

For example, if you'd never seen 心 before, you'd probably be hard-pressed to guess it meant heart, but once you've learnt it, you can almost see it beating and the blood itself pumping. And whenever you see it as a component (in technical terms, as a radical) in another more complex kanji, you know that that kanji's meaning pertains to feelings or emotions.

One such kanji for me is , which once you've gotten to know it, is very anthropomorphic to the point of being outright cute.

(onyomi: gu or go; kunyomi: kure) Read more about onyomi and kunyomi kanji readings

Even without knowing what it means, you can see a little figure, feet firmly planted, with left hand on hip and right hand raised in salutation. And, sure enough, it is a combination of the now very rare kanji 夨 which denotes a person with head to one side, and the kanji for mouth, 口, which we saw above.

"Officially," 呉 depicts someone with their mouth open, laughing, or someone dancing, bearing a ceremonial implement. It is the root kanji for the kanji 娯, i.e., with the kanji for "woman" added at the left, which is a now rare way of writing the word "tanoshii," or "fun."

However, over the centuries, 呉 has pretty much lost this meaning in everyday life, and it is now used to represent the word kureru, which means the giving of something to someone of a lower social status, or for requesting something from someone. Yet, even then, kureru is rarely rendered using a kanji, but in hiragana.

Tanaka-san ga kureta mono desu. (It's something Ms. Tanaka gave me.)
Watashite kuremasen ka. (Would you kindly pass me that?)
Sore o kure! (Give me that!)
Yatte kure! (Do it!)

呉 is also used to represent the Chinese Kingdom of Wu, which featured in Chinese history in the sixth century BC, and was located near present day Wuxi and Suzhou cities in Jiangsu province, a little inland from Shanghai. Incidentally the Chinese simplification of this kanji has seen it lose its perky hands-on-hipness to become 吴.

The kanji for kureru is most often seen as a placename: for the town of Kure in Hiroshima prefecture, famous for the JMSDF Kure Museum

Besides representing the word kureru, 呉 is used in the following phrases:
呉呉も kureguremo: repeatedly, sincerely, earnestly
Kuregure mo karada ni ki o tsukete kudasai (Take [constant] good care of yourself)
Kureguremo goryoshin ni yoroshiku (Please pass on my regards to your parents)

何呉と無く (more usually written mostly in hiragana 何くれとなく) means "in many/various ways"
Nanikuretonaku osewa ni narimashita. (You have helped me in so many ways.)

So although you won't see this happy little character waving at you very much, remember its presence every time you encounter a kureru request.

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