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Friday, November 30, 2007

Narita Airport Immigration


I went through the new immigration procedures today at Narita Airport near Tokyo.

Re-entryThere are now distinct channels for native Japanese citizens, re-entry permit holders and "other foreigners."

Narita is so far the only airport to our knowledge that has set up a separate channel for re-entry permit holders so re-entry permit holders at other airports will have to queue in the "other foreigners'" channel.

As re-entry permit holders now have their own channel at Narita Airport it should speed up immigration procedures for them as they no longer queue in the Japanese line. However at other airports throughout Japan, immigration procedure times will no doubt lengthen for all foreigners entering the country.

The actual fingerprinting of the left and right index fingers is fairly seamless and the same machine takes your mugshot without any blinding flash as you stand at the immigration booth. The surrounds of the screen show cherry blossoms, shrine gates and traditional temples but that does not disguise the fact that this screening is liable to put off, rather than attract, visitors to the country with its Big Brother, bar-code state approach.

Any comments on the subject greatly appreciated.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Book Review: Losing Kei

Losing Kei
Losing Kei

by Suzanne Kamata
Leap Frog Press
ISBN 0972898492
216 pp

Suzanne Kamata touches a nerve, something that may be too painful for some to read. In Losing Kei, she tells the tale of a young mother far from home fighting to regain a son lost permanently due to divorce.

In Japan, divorce represents the severing of two “ie,” or households. If there are children, they almost always are awarded to the mother. The children will henceforth have nothing to do with their father; he is literally “dead” to them. (A very public example is the case of former Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi, whose now grown children did not see him for more than a decade following his divorce.) In the case in which the mother is foreign, however, custody is nearly always awarded to the father - and the mother is now the one who no longer exists.

Shared custody or visitation rights remain unheard of.
Jill Parker is a painter living in rural Japan, an American woman far from home. To support her art she works as a bar hostess. It is in this seedy setting in which she meets Yusuke, an art gallery owner. This leads to marriage, which in this world—Yusuke is the eldest son—is fraught with duty and guilt and submission for the erstwhile artist Jill. Yusuke must uphold the “ie,” and the roles assigned to all within are clearly and rigidly defined. Jill is placed below and at the mercy of Yusuke’s mother.
In spite of the birth of a son, the greatest prize, the marriage cannot succeed. Jill ultimately must choose between abandoning her son and life, freedom.
The first ten pages are painful to read. Jill is waiting in a park for a glimpse of her son on his way home from school. Even this small act of defiance - and tenderness - is utterly crushed. She is supposed to be “dead,” and is failing to uphold that illusion.
Nothing is lost in translation in Losing Kei. Kamata knows whereof she writes. A very impressive work.

Reviewed by C. Ogawa

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Kyoto Gundam Manga Exhibit


Kyoto's Eki Bijutsukan, a museum located on the seventh floor of the Kyoto Station building in the Isetan Department Store, is currently hosting a wonderful exhibit of manga drawings by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. He is well-known within Japan; abroad he would be better known for the characters that his work spawned: Gundam.

These are the figures that can be taken apart and rebuilt in many ways.

The 300 drawings and actual figures in the exhibit are stunning. From large canvases, clearly influenced by traditional Japanese folktales, to huge standing figures--an amazing exhibit.

The themes of love and conflict run throughout the works.

The Exhibition of YASUHIKO Yoshikazu's World
Kyoto Station Museum, 7th Floor of Isetan Department Store
Until December 2, 2007
10 am - 8 pm
Adults 700 yen

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Japan This Week 11/25/07


Japan News.European aquariums boycott Japanese goods over Japan's whaling policy.

Japan Today

Tokyo sees Michelin stars, lots of stars.


Failed investment firm sent $40 million to the US in shrimp scam.

Daily Yomiuri

Japan struggling with its immigrant "problem."


Vintage Japanese porn.


Japan Statistics

Fewer than one in four companies have introduced means to allow workers to balance their private lives with work. Such systems include flex-time, shorter working hours, or "leave for volunteer activities." 24.5% of polled companies said they had flex-time, 20.2% said they had the option to work shorter hours.

Source: The Yomiuri Shinbun

The average monthly earnings of full-time employees in September 2007 was 273,008 yen, which was a 0.6% decrease from the previous year.

Source: Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry

The Meteorological Agency predicts Japan is in for a very cold December, primarily because of the La Nina weather pattern. Current average temperatures are calculated based on data from the period 1971 - 2000.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

The number of South Korean tourists going to Japan this year will, for the first time in 40 years, be greater than the number of Japanese visiting Korea. Thanks to the strength of the won, about 2.6 million Koreans will visit Japan. This is almost 25% more than in 2006. The number of Japanese who visited Korea this year should top out at 2.2 million.

Source: Kyodo News

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Mountain Whale (Yamanokujira)


Mountain whale ribs
Just had a delicious meal of locally-caught Mountain Whale ribs!

The mountain whales were raiding the village gardens more heavily than usual recently, I lost all my sweet potatoes, half my pumpkins, and half my taro, and most of my neighbors suffered too. All up and down the river I've noticed a lot more garden fences going up recently.

My neighbor set a trap at the place at the bottom of the mountain where they come out of the forest to raid the gardens, and over the past month 4 have been caught. We don't have a hunter in our village anymore, but one from a nearby village comes over, and, wearing his official hat and armband dispatches the beast with one shot.

Mountain Whale (Yamanokujira)

Afterwards the tail is cut off and taken to the local town hall where a bounty is paid. In our town its 3,000yen (30 USD), but in other towns its more. The mountain whales are classed as a pest because of all the damage they do to gardens, hence the bounty.

I've met plenty of town and city-dwelling Japanese who have never eaten Mountain Whale, but it can be had in the towns, albeit at a high price.

We eat it regularly, and have yet to pay anything for it.

Mountain Whale (Yamanokujira)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Book Review: Sun and Steel

Sun and Steel

Sun and Steel
by Yukio Mishima

by Yukio Mishima
Kodansha International
ISBN 4770029039
107 pp

Sun and Steel is a critically acclaimed treatise on the estrangement of body and spirit. It is essential reading for anyone interested in what motivated Japan’s most (in)famous writer.

Words came early to Mishima, earlier than a conscious recognition of the body. Cosseted by his manipulative paternal grandmother until his early teens, he was kept inside and denied physical activity. His isolation as a child continued into his teenage years when his literary talent distinguished him from his peers.

In Sun and Steel words are white ants eating away at a pillar; writing a ‘medium that reduces reality to abstraction for transmission to our reason.’ In contrast to the abstract mind and the corrosive nature of words Mishima extols the virtues of the physical, tangible body. The dichotomy between ‘ideas of the flesh and the loquacity of the body’ was perennial in his work but by middle age, in his mind at least, the physical had triumphed. He had started exercising when he was 25 and did so obsessively until his ritual suicide.

Mishima was intrigued by boundaries and frustrated by their limitations. The physical expression of consciousness through pain was real to him; the subjectivity of the mind indolent. But his real frustrations lay within the inability to combine the two elements into one.

Ultimately, does Mishima merely tire of his own imagination? Tire of the subjective? ‘How many lazy men’s truths have been admitted in the name of imagination?’ he writes. If death is the ultimate mystery and suicide a fast-track conduit through which to realise it, Mishima deems existence a fair price for the experience. To such a vain person suicide also offered an escape from decay – freedom from the imperfection of aging.

By his life’s end Mishima had founded a group within which he could subsume himself; the Tate-no-kai (Shield Society), the private army he formed in 1968. He sublimated his imagination into ‘duty,’ and burnished it ‘in preparation for death as much as he burnished his sword.’

The transition from the fiction of Patriotism, a short story written by Mishima in 1966 about a lieutenant who commits ritual suicide, to the non-fiction of Sun and Steel in 1968 is telling. By 1970 Mishima is addressing troops from the balcony of the Eastern headquarters of the Ground Self Defence Forces in Tokyo, having taken the army commander hostage and besieged his office.

The troops assemble below to jeer at Mishima and ridicule his speech, after which he disembowels himself. The nation thought his ritual suicide retrograde and indulgent at best. Whether Matsukazu Morita, the student leader of the Tate-no-kai was his lover, as hinted at in Confessions of a Mask, is a matter of conjecture. There is no doubt, however, that Sun and Steel is the ultimate autobiographical prophecy.

Reviewed by Justin Ellis Read more about Yukio Mishima

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Japan This Week 11/18/07


Japan News.Tokyo seeking a top niche in global finance markets.

New York Times

Cyber bullying on the increase.

Washington Post

Japan to resume hunting humpback whales.

Washington Post

88-year-old woman donates 1 billion yen ($9 million) to her hometown of 44,000 people.

Japan Times

Ivica Osim, coach of Japan's national soccer team, suffers stroke.

Daily Yomiuri

The Nova Collapse: Foreigners Get Mixed Results From Joining Unions in Japan.

Japan Focus

Ozawa talks down coalition after next general election.

Kyodo News

Film Review: The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai

Midnight Eye

Japan's roads play music thanks to engineers who have developed a musical road surface, aka "melody roads."


The salarymen of Japan's porn industry.


Japan Statistics

Japan's economy grew at 0.6% in the July-September period in real terms from the previous quarter. The first expansion in two quarters.

Source: Nikkei

The average monthly total of hours worked per regular employee in September 2007 was 148.6 hours a decrease of 2.6% compared with a year earlier.

Source: Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry

The number of New Year's postcards put on sale for 2008 by Japan Post has increased about 3% from the previous year to 3.92 billion, the first year-on-year increase in four years.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Japan's greenhouse gas emissions totaled 1.34 billion tons in fiscal 2006.

Source: Environment Ministry

The Government of Japan has provided the Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands (PICN) with financial support totaling up to 255 million yen (settled amount of assistance: 245 million yen) over 3 years to address the "comfort women" issue. This project was completed in 2001.

Source: Japan Foreign Ministry

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimates if an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 occurs directly under Tokyo at 6 p.m. on a winter evening, 54,000 people will be injured by falling and moving furniture.

Source: Tokyo Fire Department

Last week's Japan news

BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test


Today I sat the Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) 16th BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test. My examination center was Jochi (AKA Sophia) University in Tokyo’s Yotsuya district.
I already have Grade 1 (i.e the top grade) of the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and, on the strength of that, plus the four years I have worked as a translator in a business environment, imagined I would not find today’s exam particularly difficult.

How wrong I was! Three hours of my life, between 1.25 and 3.30pm, whizzed by in a blur as I strained my ears, refocused my eyes, and turned every part of my being to the task of getting through that test in time.

To revert a little, the first section was deceptively easy: looking at a photograph of a situation and choosing the most appropriate words being exchanged. However, after that, apart from a few easy ones thrown in to keep me from completely throwing up my hands, it was a tricky landscape that had to be navigated often at a pace I often found next to impossible. The last reading comprehension section comprising no less than 15 texts that had to be scoured for information was too much for me to finish in time, and I ended up assigning the last four problems completely random answers as the invigilator called “Pencils down”.

While I’m confident that I got more than half of them right, it will be a miracle if I make the 530 needed to progress to the second stage of the examination: the oral test.

Check out the BJT Business Japanese Proficiency Test website.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kaze no Kuni Shimane


Kazenokuni in the mountains of Shimane Prefecture is a new, upmarket resort spa set in wonderful, wooded countryside.


The Kazenokuni resort, which opened in 1997, includes spacious grounds and play areas for children, indoor tennis courts, an orchid garden, handicraft studio, outdoor onsen baths with sauna as well as a Noh stage and even an indoor gate-ball ground.

The handicrafts visitors can see being made and try their hands at making are kachiji washi, a kind of paper only made in the local area and taketombo bamboo propellers.

Accommodation is either in 15 hotel-style guest rooms or separate, wooden cottages. The staff run shuttle buses to Gotsu Station to pick up guests and the area makes for a relaxing base to discover the charms of Shimane.

As with nearby Mizunokuni, the local food served in the restaurant was superb.


2696, Nagatani, Sakurae-cho, Oochi-gun, Shimane, 699-4431
Tel: 0855-92-0001
Fax: 0855-92-0003

From Gotsu take National Highway 261 to Kawado and then follow the signs on route 41.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tokyo 2016 Olympic bid


Tokyo first made it big on the post-WWII international stage with its hosting of the Olympic Games in 1964.

43 years later, Tokyo is bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games. The process began on August 30, 2006, when Tokyo was elected as Japan's national candidate city. Then, the next month, the Tokyo 2016 Olympic Games Bid Committee was established as a private organization, becoming a non-profit corporation in February, 2007. The international bidding itself began this May.

Since last month, Tokyo Tower, the city’s tallest structure, and one of its most distinctive, has been sporting a huge ‘2016’ to raise awareness of the effort.

Promotion for the Olympic campaign can be found all over Tokyo, including on its buses. This picture (at right) of the back of a bus in Tokyo's Shinjuku area shows the official 2016 Tokyo Olympic bid symbol: the Olympic colors arranged in a "musubi", i.e. a special knot used on auspicious and celebratory occasions.

Check out the Tokyo 2016 Olympic Games Bid Committee’s website http://www.tokyo2016.or.jp/en (can no longer be accessed.

See JapanVisitor's guide to Tokyo Tower.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kiyosu Castle


Kiyosu Castle, in the suburbs of Nagoya, makes no bones about authenticity. The castle was built in 1989. The original, which was situated on the other side of the river, dated from the 14th-15th century but was demolished in 1610.

Kiyosu Castle

Local strongman Oda Nobunaga took possession of the fortress in 1555 and many of the exhibits in the castle relate to this most famous of Aichi Prefecture's sons.

The castle grounds contain a stone garden and ornamental pond, now empty of carp, for on the day we visited all the fish had fallen prey to hungry herons (shirasagi). The birds can't handle fully grown carp but were able to take the young fish from the pond much to the despair of the garden's attendant.

Kiyosu Castle

The first floor has a display of suits of armor, made out of recycled beer cans no less, which visitors are encouraged to try on and be photographed. Polished wooden stairs lead up to rooms with the usual displays of samurai swords, roof tiles and photographs of Japan's other major castles. The "highlight" is a plastic mannequin of Oda Nobunaga performing a traditional dance surrounded by his fearsome, loyal retainers.

There are good views back to Midland Square and the skyscrapers around Nagoya Station from the top storey.

Across the ornamental bridge, which is illuminated along with Kiyosu Castle at night, is a souvenir and snack shop and a small park where the original castle once stood. Kiyosu itself still retains some old wooden houses and the walk from Shin Kiyosu Station on the Meitetsu Line along the river bank is a peaceful stroll.
The Kiyosu Festival with a parade in traditional dress takes place on the Taiku no Hi (Sports Day) public holiday annually in early October.


Kiyosu Castle
Tel: 052 409 7330
Hours: 9.00am to 4.30pm
Admission: 300 yen
Closed: Mondays

Take the JR Tokaido Line two stops north from Nagoya Station or the Meitetsu Line eight stops to Shin Kiyosu Station on the Nagoya Main Line. It is a 15-20 minute walk from either station.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kaki (persimmon)

Originally from China, kaki (Diospyros kaki) are common throughout southern and western Japan, and at this time of the year with the leaves fallen off the trees the orange fruit are very conspicuous.

Kaki - persimmon

Ama-gaki (甘がき) are the spherically-shaped fruits and can be enjoyed straight from the tree, but shibu-gaki (渋柿), the more oval-shaped fruit are too astringent to be eaten until they have been peeled, and hung in the sun to dry, when they become sweet like dried figs.
In this form they are known as hoshi-gaki (干し柿) and are a popular gift. Monkeys are particularly fond of kaki, and the two trees in my yard are constantly raided in the late summer and early fall.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 47 Kumamoto to Yamaga.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Christmas in Shinjuku


"Kurisumasu," as Christmas is known in Japan, has already come to Tokyo's hub of commerce and entertainment, the Shinjuku area. One of Shinjuku's biggest department stores, Odakyu, in the Shinjuku station building, has just turned on its yuletide lighting as the rush towards the big day begins.

Not that the 25th forms the big day here. The focal date of Christmas is the 24th, Christmas Eve, and the focal activity is not carol singing or gift giving, but dating.

But whatever it stands for, as the decorations above suggest, Christmas is as huge in Japan as anywhere. Only 40 shopping days to go!


Japan Tokyo Shinjuku Odakyu Christmas

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Japan News 11/11/07


Japan News. Japan's police see no evil in death of young sumo trainee.

LA Times

New rules requiring fingerprints and digital photos of visitors are revealing about attitudes toward foreigners.

LA Times

Dutch lower house OKs resolution on "comfort women".

Japan Times

Defence Ministry scandal involving ex-Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya widens.

Daily Yomiuri

Japan's Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants, by Arudou Debito.

Japan Focus

Chunichi Dragons win Asian Baseball Series.

Kyodo News

Soapland for women fails to make a splash.


Japan Statistics

The US dollar was at its lowest level against the Yen at one point on Friday since May 2006. In Tokyo the dollar closed at 112.65-68 Yen

Source: Nikkei

New HIV infections hit a high of 274 for the July-September quarter. 64% were infected by male-to-male sexual contact, 17% were infected by male-to-female sexual contact

Source: Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry

The social networking site Mixi had 11.1 million registered users in July 2007.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

The 59th Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in National Treasures in Nara has passed the 200,000 visitor mark. In 2006, 283,515 people visited the exhibition.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Japan has offered China 3,316 trillion Yen in loans since 1979.

Source: Japan Foreign Ministry

From June to August 2007 the Tokyo Fire Department received 173,275 emergency calls for an ambulance.

Source: Tokyo Fire Department

Last week's Japan news

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Design Festa No.26


Design Festa.
Design Festa Vol.26

More booths than ever! Presenting original works of over 6,500 artists!

Design Festa Vol.26 will be held on November 17(Sat) & 18(Sun)
at Tokyo Big Sight.

Over the past 13 years, Design Festa has nurtured creativity and provided a
platform for professional and non-professional artists to express
With over 60,000 visitors and 6,500 artists from around the world, Design
Festa is an explosion of originality fused with cultural exchange.

Design Festa

Design Festa, Tokyo.

Expression of original art in the Booth Area! ( Regular Lighting Area / Dimmed Light Area )

*Huge painting of peaceful worlds where mysterious animals roam!
*Ball-jointed-dolls with a very strange installation & performance!
*Cartoonists continuously present unique comic books and picture books.
*Basic but beautifully made footwear, leather ware and accessories!
*Cloth, bucket, tissue papers...these sensory creations changed ceramic art!
*World of figurative paper crafts filled with unique ideas!

Attend this artistic explosion!

Design Festa, Tokyo Big Sight.

Do not miss the Event Area.

Outdoor Live-show Stage: 20 bands, outdoors.
20 original bands will roll out performances ranging from rock, punk,
funk...and more!
These dynamic acts will be sure to captivate the audience.

Indoor Stage: 35 groups in the Atrium.
Fashion shows, performances, contemporary dance and more.
Don't miss 35 groups performing here!

Mini-Theater Space: 22 creators in West Hall 3.
22 International creators will present their works in various genres
including animation, experimental movies and performance.

Event Area Program

Special Design Festa original menus at Restaurant & Cafe / Bar Area

American, Mexican, French, Chinese, Indian, Hawaiian and more...
Enjoy the 13 international cuisines gathered in this indoor and outdoor
Do not forget to try the Special Design Festa dishes!

Artists from all over the world exhibit their works, turning this 2 day
event into artistic chaos!

Please feel free to contact us before the event. We will be able to
tell you about who the participating artists are.
Media coverage of our event in the venue is greatly appreciated.
Please present your business card at the Media Information Desk.

Design Festa Vol.26
Date: November 17 (Sat) & 18 (Sun) 2007, 11am - 7pm
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight, West Hall 1, 2, 3, 4, Atrium and Outdoor
Venue Areas: 2,600 Exhibition Booths, Outdoor Live-show Stage, Indoor Stage,
Mini-Theater Space, Restaurant & Cafe/Bar Area

Tokyo Big Sight.

JR Rinkai-line to Kokusai-Tenjijo station.
Yurikamome-line to Kokusai-Tenjijo Seimon station.

Advance : ¥800/1 day, ¥1,500/2 days
At the door: ¥1,000yen/1 day, ¥1,800yen/2 days
Age 12 and under: Free

Tickets available through:
*Lawson Ticket : L code 38123, until midnight of Nov 16th
*Ticket PIA : P code 609-922 (1 day) / 985-206 (2 days) until midnight of Nov 16th
*Design Festa Gallery & Office (for tickets with original artwork)

For further information about the Design Festa, visit:
Design Festa

We look forward to seeing you at the venue.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mystery insect in Tokyo CBD


"Kurisumasu," as Christmas is known in Japan, has already come to Tokyo's hub of commerce and entertainment, the Shinjuku area. One of Shinjuku's biggest department stores, Odakyu, in the Shinjuku station building, has just turned on its yuletide lighting as the rush towards the big day begins.

Not that the 25th forms the big day here. The focal date of Christmas is the 24th, Christmas Eve, and the focal activity is not carol singing or gift giving, but dating.

But whatever it stands for, as the decorations above suggest, Christmas is as huge in Japan as anywhere. Only 40 shopping days to go!

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Protest the fingerprinting of foreigners entering Japan

New Japan Immigration Card
From November 20th, foreigners entering Japan (including permanent and non-permanent residents) will have to submit to being digitally fingerprinted and photographed.

The government stance is summed in the following quotes.

"This will greatly contribute to preventing international terrorist activities on our soil," Naoto Nikai: Immigration Bureau.

"It is vital we take fingerprints (from foreigners) in order to prevent terrorist attacks": Kunio Hatoyama, Justice Minister.

Groups such as University Teachers Union Japan, Amnesty International Japan, and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan are fighting the implementation.

Open a petition protesting the above.

The petition aims to abolish the re-establishment of fingerprinting for all foreigners entering Japan - including residents - as introduced by the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to take effect from November 20th, 2007, in Japan.

It will be sent to:

General Affairs Division, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo, 100-8977
Tel: +81 (0)3-3580-4111

More information about the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act

Incidentally, the Justice Minister, indeed, the whole Japanese Establishment, seems to have conveniently forgotten that the most egregious terrorist attack "on Japanese soil" in recent history, by Aum Shinri-kyo in 1995, in which 12 were killed and 54 seriously injured, had nothing to do with foreigners at all.

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan
Amnesty International Japan

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nagoya Players - A Christmas Carol



NAGOYA, JP – October 14, 2007 – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens directed by Patti Gage will be performed by The Nagoya Players on Saturday, December 1, with 2PM and 7PM performances, and Sunday, December 2, with 2PM and 6PM performances at the Meito Playhouse.

Nagoya Players - A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol takes place in the early 1800’s in London. Ebenezer Scrooge (Cameron Smith), a miserly greedy man, has lost his connection to humanity and the spirit of Christmas. The play begins on Christmas Eve in Scrooge’s office. Scrooge and Bob Cratchit (Hiro Hirashiki), Scrooge’s ill-treated clerk, are busy at work. Disgusted by the Christmas atmosphere, Scrooge reluctantly allows Bob to take off on Christmas day. While preparing for bed after having eaten dinner alone, Scrooge notices a strange noise echoing throughout his house. He soon realizes that the noise is coming from his long-deceased partner, Marley (Michael Kruse). Marley gives Scrooge a chance to alter fate by informing Scrooge of visits by 3 ghosts: Christmas Past (Prisca Molotsi), Christmas Present Present (Ben Backwell), and Christmas Yet to Come (Brice Antoine). In one night, the ghosts show Scrooge events from his past, present, and future. Scrooge is reminded of how he used to be happy and full of life. He is also shown how he has affected those around him, namely Bob Cratchit and his crippled son, Tiny Tim (Kento Kishida).

Ticket prices at the door on the days of the performances are ¥3000 for adults, ¥2500 for students, and ¥2000 for children (primary school or younger). Advanced tickets purchased anytime up to six weeks before the show dates are ¥2500 for adults, ¥2000 for students, and ¥1500 for children. Ten percent of the profits will be donated to the Nagoya YWCA.

About the Nagoya Players
The Nagoya Players are a well-known English-language theatre company with more than 30 years of experience in entertaining Nagoya audiences. Founded in 1975, The Nagoya Players represent a mix of natives of the Nagoya area and the local foreign community. They have been featured in print, both locally and nationally, and on radio and television. The Nagoya Players have presented a range of genres. For more information about the theatre company, visit nagoyaplayers.info.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007



Compared to its slightly smaller neighbor Himakajima, Shinojima appears to have seen better days.

Listen to the sound of a lay Buddhist chant on Shinojima


A number of the island's ryokan (guesthouses) are closed and slowly crumbling. The island's high school has shut and older children now have to make the ferry journey to the mainland for their education.

Slightly smaller with around 2,000 inhabitants, in comparison with the 2,300 people living on Himakajima, Shinojima seems to have a higher proportion of the elderly, sitting out in the autumn sun in a scene reminiscent of a Greek island.

Elderly residents of Shinojima

Still Shinojima is not without its charms, the small town on the hill behind the port faces a splendid 800m-long sandy beach (Naiba), which is ideal for swimming in summer. The small town has a number of small, evocative temples and the more rugged, wooded interior makes for excellent hiking and bird-watching.

Beach at Shinojima.

Walking through the twisting, narrow lanes of the island's town again evokes something of the Greek islands. Many of the houses are brightly painted weatherboard constructions and there are terrific views out to sea and the Chita Peninsula.

Wooden houses on Shinojima.

Shinojima's main industry is fishing, mainly octopus and fugu (blowfish) as with its neigbor Himakajima to the north.

Bicycle hire for the day is available at the grand tourist information office, which was surely built for a time when more people arrived, situated to your left as you disembark from the ferry.


There are Meitetsu ferry connections to Shinojima from Kowa (30 mins), Irago, Himakajima and Morozaki (20 mins). The car ferry sails from Morozaki.

From Nagoya Station or Kanayama Station take a Meitetsu train to Kowa (47 mins), then it is a 5 minute walk left out of the station to Kowa Port or jump on the free shuttle bus. From Toyohashi take a Meitetsu bus to Irago (90 mins) then a ferry to the island (30 mins).
Return fares on the ferry to Himakajima & Shinojima are presently 2,270 yen.

Tourist Information
Tel: 0569 67 3700

Read more about Himakajima

Ferry to Shinojima

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Monday, November 05, 2007



Himakajima mascotHimakajima and Shinojima are two small islands off the Chita Peninsula, south of Nagoya city.

Himaka Island is the closest to the mainland, seems the more prosperous and is perhaps prettier than its neighbor Shino Island.

Both islands are an easy and pleasant day trip from Nagoya and there are a number of ryokan and small hotels on both islands if you wish to stay longer and really experience the tranquillity and excellent seafood.

Though within 90 minutes of Nagoya city, both islands are a world away in terms of the pace of life and both are a haven for wildlife including birds and the occasional dolphin offshore.

Sunset Beach, Himakajima, Aichi Prefecture.

The islands depend on fishing, mainly octopus and fugu (blowfish) for their livelihood with tourism as a secondary source of income. The islands attract amateur anglers and water-sports enthusiasts throughout the year. It is possible to experience a hands-on fishing trip with professionals and learn how to cast nets and catch octopus.

Sunset Beach, Himakajima, Aichi Prefecture.

On Himakajima, bicycle hire for the day is available for 500 yen and visitors can cycle round the island or enjoy the 5km walk. There is an excellent sunset at the western port, where most of the island's development is located and an equally spectacular sunrise at the eastern port. The small town at the western port around Sunset Beach is built up into the cliffs and still has some attractively painted weatherboard houses.

View of Shinojima, Aichi.


There are Meitetsu ferry connections to Himakajima from Kowa (20 mins), Irago, Shinojima and Morozaki (10 mins).

From Nagoya Station or Kanayama Station take a Meitetsu train to Kowa (47 mins), then it is a 5 minute walk left out of the station to Kowa Port or jump on the free shuttle bus. From Toyohashi take a Meitetsu bus to Irago (90 mins) then a ferry to the island (30 mins).
Return fares on the ferry to Himakajima & Shinojima are presently 2,690 yen.

Tourist Information
Tel: 0569 68 2388

Squid, Himakajima

Images taken on a FOMA SH7001 mobile phone




Sunday, November 04, 2007

Japan This Week 11/4/07


Japan News. Japan's opposition Democratic Party rejects "grand coalition" with LDP.

Japan Times

Japan's prisons are turning gray.

New York Times

Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay, dies at 92.


Former Nova president Sahashi used company as personal bank account.

Daily Yomiuri

Japan as a Nuclear State, by Gavan McCormack.

Japan Focus

Chunichi Dragons win Japan Series for first time in 53 years with perfect game.

Japan Times

The Sleeping Dragon (i.e., China) is awake and aroused.


Japan Statistics

There were 1,319 garbage incinerators nationwide in 2005.

Source: Environment Ministry

42,000 people would be killed if an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 on the Richter Scale were to strike the Osaka area of western Japan.

Source: Central Disaster Prevention Council

An estimated 400,000 porpoises have been killed off the coast of Taiji over the last two decades.

Source: Japan Times

Toyota Corp. sold 7.05 million vehicles from January to September 2007.

Source: Toyota Corp

There are over 100 schools for foreign children in Japan, 94 of them for Brazilians.

Source: Kyodo News

Last week's Japan news

100% Design Tokyo


Today was the last day of Tokyo Designer's Week 2007, an event running from October 31 to November 4th that enveloped the whole of Tokyo and saw business, local government, and academia collaborating. Its reach went beyond the domestic, even, and involved hundreds of overseas design-related companies and individuals.

The centerpiece of the week was the big exhibition, 100% Design Tokyo, that took place on the grounds of the Meiji Jingu Mae Art Gallery, staged mainly in a series of massive white tents.

The sun was shining in an almost cloudless blue sky as we lined up for entry which, at 2,000 yen, turned out to be well worth it in both fun, gasp-factor, and the chance to meet people.

The tent nearest the entrance, Blickfang, featured design work from Europe, mainly Germany. It was every bit as chic and imaginative as you would expect. The Czech glass was probably the most impressive in its perfection, simplicity, and unerring modernity.

The Japan Brand Exhibition was a bit of a come down after Blickfang, with its predictable "Japonesque" themery and a lot of lacklustre products.

The main tent was a pot pourri of design products from all over the world, and took a good hour to get around.

Outside was an enormous raised platform featuring university students' design concepts on top: a very "experimental" collection full of hits and misses, and, underneath it, rows of shipping containers each featuring a different design concept.

Tokyo Designer's Week, by the way, is not to be confused with the Design Festa, which is a more local, amateur event.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Paul Tibbets


Paul Tibbets Paul Tibbets, the commander and pilot of the US B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, that dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima in 1945, died Thursday in Colombus, Ohio, aged 92.

Tibbets, throughout his life, steadfastly defended the US military's rationale behind the dropping of the bomb. In a nutshell, it was that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki a few days later, brought the war to a quick, decisive end and in the long run actually saved lives.

Tibbets believed a conventional US invasion of Japan would have lead to a far greater loss of life and untold destruction. The grisly events of the invasion of Okinawa can be used as evidence in support of this view. As a graduate student of Japanese history in the mid-90s, this was also the mainstream argument given to students by the course professors where I studied.

Alternative views of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are that they stand alone as crimes against humanity and should not have happened. Steven L. Leeper, the recent American chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, would be in this camp, and most visitors to the Atomic Bomb Memorial Museums in Hiroshima & Nagasaki probably leave with the feeling that the attacks were tragic happenings and must not be repeated.

Tibbets, a man who had fought throughout the war in Europe and North Africa, declared, "What they needed was someone who could do this and not flinch - and that was me."

"I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing."

"We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible."

On that fateful, historic day of August 6, 1945, Tibbets commanded a crew of 12 other men aboard the Enola Gay - the plane named after Tibbets' mother - which flew from Tinian Island to drop the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT on the city of Hiroshima, causing an estimated 80,000 deaths and 60,000 injured.

After the war, Tibbets inspected the damage caused by the bombing of Nagasaki and continued in the US Air Force until his retirement in 1966 with the rank of Brigadier General after 29 years of service.

Tibbets made it clear he did not want a tombstone or a memorial built after his death as that would create controversy, and that he wished for his body to be cremated. He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Andrea, and 3 sons.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chunichi Dragons win Japan Series


Nagoya's Chunichi Dragons won the Japan Series yesterday ending a 53-year wait to win Japanese baseball's ultimate prize.

Dragons' manager Hiromitsu Ochiai is given the traditional toss.

Chunichi beat Nippon Ham Fighters 1-0 in a pitching duel at Nagoya Dome to win the series 4-1. The series was a rematch of last year's title showdown, which Chunichi lost to the same opponents.

The win sparked wild scenes around the city as supporters gathered in bars and outside outdoor video screens to watch the tense finish.

The win is expected to boost the local economy as many of Nagoya's major department put on "Victory Sales" to cash in on the feel-good factor.

Nippon Ham Fighters' American manager Trey Hillman will leave the Hokkaido-based team to become the new manager of MLB club Kansas City Royals.

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