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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Japan This Week: 30 November 2008


Japan News.Tokyo Killings May Be Tied to Scandal on Pensions

New York Times

Japan workers told to go home and procreate


Nine Japanese able to flee besieged hotels

Japan Times

Japan's Factory Output Plunges, Industrial Outlook Turns Grim

Washington Post

30,000 nonregular workers to lose jobs by March

The Daily Yomiuri

Robots make acting debut


Tokyo's demolition drama


Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso condemns 'hobbling malingerers'

Times on Line

Nationality law revision set to pass


Japan’s Asada takes lead after short program

Yahoo! Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Average monthly hours worked by regular employees in Japan.

2001: 154.0
2002: 153.1
2003: 153.8
2004: 153.3
2005: 152.4
2006: 153.5
2007: 154.2

Source: Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

1,400,000 Japanese traveled abroad in September, 2008, a 9.7% decline compared to the same period in 2007.

Source: Japan Tourism Marketing Agency

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence Matsue


Across the moat from Matsue Castle and next door to the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, is Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence - a delightful, small samurai house and gardens, where the writer lived from May-November 1891.

Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence, Matsue

It was here that Hearn began work on two of his most famous books: Kwaidan, a collection of ghost stories, and his classic Glimpses of Unfamilar Japan.

The tatami mat rooms are left open to the gardens when the weather is fine. Hearn's writing desk is preserved near the smaller of the two gardens, with a pond, at the back of the house.

Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence Matsue

"There are large rocks in it, heavily mossed; and divers fantastic basins of stone for holding water; and stone lamps green with years. There are miniature hills, with old trees upon them; and there are long slopes of green, shadowed by flowering shrubs, like river banks; and there are green knolls like islets." Glimpses of Unfamilar Japan, Vol II

The atmosphere is genuinely one of the late nineteenth century when Hearn lived in the house. The peaceful place lends itself to contemplation, as you sit on the floor and gaze at the beautiful gardens.

Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence, Matsue

Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence
9am-5pm (March-November); 10am-4.40pm (December-February)
Admission: 350 yen

Take a bus from Matsue Station to Koizumi Yakumo Kinenkan-mae bus stop.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sesshutei Garden Yamaguchi City


The 3,000 square meter garden behind Joeji Temple in Yamaguchi City is called Sesshutei (lit. Sesshu’s garden).

Sesshutei Yamaguchi City

It is believed that the garden was commissioned by the 29th generation Lord Masahiro Ouchi sometime in the 15th Century, and certainly Sesshu was in Yamaguchi at that time, along with many other artists and nobles from Kyoto, who had fled the war-torn capital, and who helped to keep Kyoto culture alive during this period.

Sesshutei Yamaguchi City

Like other Zen gardens of the Muromachi Period, there are few plants in it, though the forested hillside bordering the garden is considered a part of the garden. It is believed Sesshu designed the garden after he returned from China, and so it reflects some Chinese influence and is based on a landscape painting of Sesshu’s.

Sesshutei Yamaguchi City

There is also a smaller raked-gravel garden in the grounds of the temple, and a footpath that goes around the main garden with a side path up to the top of the hill where there are some quite dramatic Buddhist statues.

Sesshutei Yamaguchi City

Sesshutei is open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance fee for adults is 300yen.
Phone: 083-922-2272

© JapanVisitor.com

For more information on south western Japan visit Jake's blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Iki Iki Matsuri

Photo of the Week - 生き生き祭り

Iki Iki Matsuri

The Japanese women of Sakurae Town in Shimane Prefecture perform the local town dance at the annual Iki Iki Matsuri.

The dancers are wearing distinctive red happi coats.

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor

To see more of Jake's photos visit his Japan photo blog.

Cool crisp autumn in Japan


We are right in the middle of autumn in Japan: as beautiful a season as any with its rich reds and golds. And even more attractive than spring is the clear, dry air that makes physical activity so untaxing – as well as making for wonderful photos and clear, extra-starry night skies.

Japanese onomatopoeia is well known for its rich expressiveness, and there are several of them that express the sensations of autumn very effectively. For example, “a cool, crisp autumn breeze” is expressed as hinyari to sugusugashii aki no soyokaze. Hinyari to can express anything from cool to chilly. Sugasugashii is an onomatopoeic adjective meaning, likewise, “crisp, refreshing, invigorating”.

Featured here are some pictures from Shimane prefecture taken just a couple of days ago. Against the beautiful blue skies we enjoyed, they illustrate better than anything else autumn’s light cool touch.

Autumn in Shimane.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Naked Tokyo:2008

The Naked Tokyo:2008 exhibit will feature the works of more than 20 photographers from around the world who are living (or have lived) in Tokyo, and who apply their signature styles to interpreting this great city, revealing a small sliver of the Naked Tokyo within.

The exhibit will be available for preview by the media on the evening of Sunday, December 7, from 6 p.m.

The opening party will be held on Monday, December 8, from 6 p.m. All are welcome.

Entrance fee: ¥ 1,000 (includes one glass of wine)

Information on previous Naked Tokyo shows.

For further information on Naked Tokyo:2008 [People] please contact:

Alexis Alvarez, Producer

Tim Porter, Organizer/Lord Emeritus

List of photographers:

Alexis Alvarez, United States

Bonnie Bajaj, Hong Kong

Rick Balia, United States

Adrian Beard, England/Wales

Ernesto Braam,

Paul Cohen, Australia

Camilla Douraghy, United States/Iran

Barbara Flatten, Germany

Clive France, England

Harold Godsoe

Gary Heayes, England

Carla Hernandez, Spain

Max Hodges

Leroy Howard, United States

Leslie Kennah, Canada

Lars Jensen, Denmark

Paul Kohl, United States

Frank La Riviere, The Netherlands

Edward Levinson, United States

Haruna Miyashita, Japan

Shinishi George Nitta, Japan

Lori Ono, Canada

Mark Skorji, Australia

Jay Tomioka, United States/Japan

Mumi Trabucco, Argentina

Whitney Vosburgh, United States

Vladimir Zakharov, Russia

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fall Colors in Kyoto

Tenryuji Temple Kyoto京都の紅葉

Kyoto's famed fall colors are now out in all their glory.

Over the three-day weekend, we took in the maples at Tenryuji in Arashiyama.

The area was packed with tourists; however, walking was pleasant since the main (only) street was closed to cars, buses, and scooters. Only pedestrians--lots of pedestrians--and the occasional cyclist was on the road.

We spent time wandering around the pond and the exterior of the main hall--both of which are free and open to the public.

Best of all was the contrast of a mobster's car parked in front of a beautiful maple. The man had all the usual accoutrements of a yakuza: sleek designer shades; recently lit cigarette; a manny bag; tight designer jeans; and a well-built woman on his arm with big hair and a tiny mini-skirt. And he appeared to have no interest whatsoever in the gardens around him.

Tenryuji Temple KyotoTenryuji Temple

Two minutes from the Keifuku Line's Arashiyama Station.
Or take a city bus to "Keifukuarashiyama." A 7-8 minute walk from JR Saga Station.
Tel: 075-881-1235
68 Susukinobaba-cho, Tenryuji, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto.

8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Fee : 500 yen
© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nagoya City Art Museum


Nagoya City Art Museum in Fushimi, not far from the Hilton Hotel, has a small permanent collection of contemporary western and Japanese art.

Nagoya City Art Museum

Located across Shirakawa Park from Nagoya's Science Museum, Nagoya City Art Museum opened in 1988. The permanent collection includes works by foreign artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo and Maurice Utrillo. Japanese contemporary art is represented by Shusaku Arakawa, Tsuguharu Fujita and Tadaaki Kuwayama. The collection is rotated four times a year.

The facility also includes works by local artists, a temporary exhibition gallery, a library, auditorium, cafe and shop.

The Nagoya City Art Museum also hosts special exhibitions and the exhibition entitled "400 Years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum" from July-September 2012 drew record crowds.

Nagoya City Art Museum

Nagoya City Art Museum
17-25, Sakae 2-chome
Naka-ku, Nagoya
Tel: 052 212 0001

Admission: 300 yen

A short walk from Fushimi Station (Exit 5) on the Higashiyama and Tsurumai subway lines or Osu Kannon on the Tsurumai Line (Exit 1).

Nagoya City Art Museum

Nagoya City Art Museum Entrance

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Japan This Week: 23 November 2008


Japan News.Japanese Are Irked by U.S. Interest in Pitcher

New York Times

Levelling the lingerie playing field


Japan in the future to be caught between U.S., China: think tank

Japan Times

Japan suspects stabbings linked to pension scandal

Washington Post

Film Review: Tokyo Sonata

Midnight Eye

Japan approves whalemeat import


Fallen J-pop icon indicted for fraud


Matsuzaka willing to play for Japan at WBC

Yahoo! Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Violence in Japanese schools has increased dramatically in the last year. In 2007, there were 5,214 cases (45%) of violent behavior in elementary schools, 18,951 (25%) in junior high schools, and 6,512 (7%) in high schools. The numbers in parentheses represent the percentage rise over the previous school year. The majority in all three was damage to property.

On a per capita basis, Kagawa Prefecture led the country with 10.1 cases per 1,000 people. Kochi was second with 9.3.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

Last year approximately 8 million people visited Japan spending 1.6 trillion

Source: Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA)

Japan tops G-7 survey of 3G cell phone use. 83% of all cell phone users in Japan have a third generation connection. Italy had the second highest at 27%. Canada had the lowest at only 1%.

Source: Kyodo

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hilton Hotel Nagoya


The Hilton Hotel in Nagoya's Fushimi district, just off Hirokoji Dori, is a perennial favorite with tourists and business travelers to Japan's Detroit.

Hilton Hotel Nagoya

Situated only one stop on the subway from Nagoya Station and within walking distance of Sakae - the main entertainment district in town - the Hilton makes for a comfortable and convenient stay.

There are over 400 rooms and facilities include seven restaurants, bar, internet access, swimming pool, gym and tennis courts.

Hilton Hotel Nagoya

Nearby foreigner-friendly bars include the Hard Rock Cafe, the Elephant's Nest British-style pub and Cigar Kanou (052-231-5534), a cigar bar on the same street as the Hilton with outdoor seating, food and a range of foreign cigarettes, cigars and tobacco.

Hilton Hotel Nagoya
1-3-3 Sakae Naka-ku

The nearest subway station is Fushimi on the Tsurumai and Higashiyama lines.

(c) JapanVisitor.com

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Kyoto Lights Up its Temples

higashiyama-lantern京都の寺社 ライトアップ

To accompany the fall colors, Kyoto city is sponsoring special night time lighting at many of its most famous temples and shrines.

Here is the schedule at the major temples and shrines:

Manshuin: until November 25th; 5 pm - 8 pm; 600 yen for adults

Eikando: until November 30th; 5:30 pm - 9 pm; 600 yen for adults

Chionin: until November 30th; 5:30 pm - 9 pm; 800 yen for adults

Enkoji: until November 30th; 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm; 500 yen for

Daikakuji: until November 30th; 5 pm - 8 pm; 500 yen for adults

Tofukuji: until December 6th; 5 pm - 8:30 pm; 500 yen for adults

Kodaiji: until December 7th; 5 pm - 9:30 pm; 600 yen for adults

Kiyomizu: until December 7th; 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm; 400 yen for adults

Tenryuji: until December 7th; 5:30 pm - 8:15 pm; 600 yen for adults

Kita no Tenmangu: November 21-25, 28-30, December 5-7th; sundown - 8 pm; 600 yen for adults

(c) JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Janglish


Janglish Japanese Loan Words From English
Today more examples of loan words that may or may not make any sense to a native speaker of English.

Once in the San Francisco Airport, I saw a group of women trying to order three cups of coffee.

スリーホット!スリーホット!repeated the flustered Japanese woman. The young Mexican-American at the counter stared back blankly.

What the customer wanted was "su-ri hotto," or three coffees.

Another example is アメリカン(American). This is a slightly weaker cup of coffee.

Moving to the workplace, there are of course the サラリーマン(salaryman)and オーエル(OL, office lady).

Then there are the dreaded リストラ(resutora, restructuring)and ブランク(blank). The former means layoffs, the latter a period on your resume that is empty or blank.

Another term with negative connotations is フリーター(furi-ta-), which is someone who works "freely." What it means in practice is someone who works part-time at several jobs instead of having one full-time job.

The last word for today is マイペース(mai pace). In general, it means someone who works at their own pace, even if others are rushing.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Tokyo Rental Apartments

Japan Cupid
The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan's Finest Ryokan and Onsen

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Takase River Art Exhibit - Kyoto

Takase River, Kyoto高瀬川京都

Kyoto's Takase River is a narrow canal that runs parallel to Kiyamachi Dori (street) from Nijo-Kiyamachi down to Fushimi, in southern Kyoto. The canal dates from 1611.

It is quite close the Kamo River and follows alongside it for roughly 10 km, separated only by Pontocho and Kiyamachi.

Prior to the invention of the steam engine and internal combustion engine, rivers and canals were used to transport both people and goods in Japan.

In the case of Kyoto, small barges carried goods on the Takase River within Kyoto and then, farther down where the canal meets the Kamo River, to Osaka.

Takase River, KyotoToday is is a pleasant break from the concrete and neon, mainly thanks to the willow trees that line the canal. Near Nijo, several of the barges are moored and there is a plaque explaining the history of the area and the canal.

Kiyamachi is beset known today as a nightlife area, with bars and restaurants and brothels on the side streets. At night, students and young people and lovers throng the narrow streets.

Last week, though, riding down Kiyamachi during the day to avoid the traffic on Kawaramachi, we noticed many works of art in the river itself.

They were set on concrete blocks in the river, and labeled. The exhibit was a competition with winners and prizes.

The works ranged from the highly abstract to the merely odd.

One wonders what the pimps and whores, students and salarymen, geisha and tourists make of this as they make their nightly rounds.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Former Seoul Station

Seoul Station旧ソウル駅

The former Seoul Station building is one of the few remaining colonial buildings left in the Korean capital.

The brick structure is actually closed now, having been replaced in 2004 with the completion of the new Seoul Station. The adjacent glass structure houses the tracks for the new KTX bullet train and has the feel of an airport.

The former Seoul Station was designed by Tokyo Imperial University professor Tsukamoto Yasushi. Tsukamoto was a student of Tatsuno Kingo, the designer of Tokyo Station.

And, in contrast to the new efficient station building, it is comfortable and good looking.

The elegant building was completed in 1925 while Korea was under Japanese occupation. Based on it design and feel, it bears a close resemblance to Tokyo Station.

It is a three-story structure, which had a restaurant on the second floor and a waiting room on the third.

The building is scheduled to be renovated beginning in April, 2009. In June of the following year, the "Seoul Station Cultural Center" is scheduled to open its doors.

The former Seoul Station was designated in August of 1981 as a cultural property--and as such will not meet the fate of many other Japanese colonial era buildings: the wrecking ball.

Colonial Era Seoul Station
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Taro Aso Reality Tour

Three young demonstrators were arrested by Japanese police in Shibuya, Tokyo after taking part in a "Reality Tour" to view Prime Minister Taro Aso's luxury mansion located in the area on October 26.

The march to the 6.2 billion yen apartment of Japan's latest PM, Taro Aso was organized by "Part-timer, Arbeiter, Freeter & Foreign Workers" to emphasise the income gap in Japanese society.

Japanese police argue the demonstration was unauthorized and they had issued warnings to the participants to stop before making their arrests.

© Japan Visitor.com

Japan Cupid

Rough Guide To Japan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Japan This Week: 16 November 2008


Japan News.Japan: British Lucite Maker to Be Acquired

New York Times

Japanese governor says Tokyo earthquake would be good for his region


Neighborhood in Japan Files Lawsuit in Bid to Oust Mafia

New York Times

Ruling bloc OKs ¥2 trillion boost

Japan Times

Japanese General Defends Revised Version of WWII

Washington Post

Free Money? In Japan, Most Say They Will Pass

Washington Post

The Late Story: Egg Face


Tokyo hosts global gathering of monks


Gamba coach hails “dream” first Asian title

Yahoo! Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

In the first six months of this year, 1,202 marijuana related arrests were recorded in Japan. This is a 12% increase compared the same period in the previous year. Home cultivation cases rose by by almost 50%.

In July, Tokyo police seized 180kg of cannabis. That would fetch ¥720 million ($7.4 million) on the mean streets of Japan.

Source: Guardian

Saturday, November 15, 2008

IKEA Port Island Kobe

IKEA KobeIKEA ポートアイランド

IKEA's Port Island store in Kobe is a massive 293,000-square feet.

From its size to the experience to the way you shop--you are no longer in Japan.

The staff is Japanese and Swedish, and hard to find. No "irrashaimase," no 5 women waiting on you in the necktie section, no excessive wrapping, and no inflated prices: IKEA's business model is, like its design, clean and spare.

The store sells beds, sofas, kitchen items, furniture, etc. In addition, there is a play area for children, a small Swedish super market, and a restaurant on the second floor.

After arriving on the shuttle bus from Sannomiya Station, you wander through the show rooms. Prices are so low you will begin to sense a powerful need for cutlery and glassware.

The smaller items you can place in the over sized shopping cart; larger items you must pick up in the warehouse next door. In the show rooms are small note pads and pencils on which you write down the product name and number. In the warehouse, you then pick them up. This often requires a massive dolly.

All of this "shopping" must be managed on your own. Not surprisingly, most of the shoppers were young couples.

The final step is checking out and then arranging shipping. Like its US stores, IKEA assumes that most of its customers will come by car. For those who take public transportation and the shuttle, it's home delivery, which is the only aspect of the experience that is priced to the local market.

IKEA KobeShuttle Bus:

Weekdays: 2 buses per hour. Weekends and public holidays: 3 buses per hour. It takes around 15-20 minutes to get to the store.

8 chome 7-1, Minatojima
Nakamachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe City

Customer service:


Store hours:

7 days a week: 10:00am-10:00pm

Closed on January 1st every year.

Last entry

Småland: 7:30 PM yet closes when it's full
Restaurant (2F): 9:30 PM
Parking area: 9:30 PM
Showroom: 9:45 PM
Sweden Food Market: 10:00 PM

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Cats Kyoto - Video booths by the hour

Cats Kyotoビデオ試写室「キャッツ」京都店

As a result of an early October arson at the Cats Video Parlor in Osaka, which left 16 dead, the Kyoto branch and all branches nation wide have been ordered closed.

In a nutshell, what Cats offers is tiny rooms where you can watch DVDs--adult or non-adult--for pre-set periods of time. The room consists of a lazy-boy type reclining chair, the video player, and a place to hang your coat. For one hour the fee is 300 yen; the "nighter" course, from 11 pm - 10 am, costs 1,300 yen ($13).

As a result of this overnight option and its low cost, many homeless men--it's always men--and salarymen who miss the last train use these establishments as a cheap place to spend the night.

On October 1st, at the Namba branch in Osaka, an arsonist set fire to the building. Because of multiple fire code violations--lack of smoke control, working emergency lighting, and exits--the customers were trapped. Most died of smoke inhalation.

There was a typed sign on official Cats stationery in the window of the Kyoto branch apologizing and expressing profound regret for the incident.

When and if Cats will be able to reopen is unknown.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Japan Place Names


If you can master the words for Japanese place names, you can begin to demystify your surroundings and get your bearings in Japan's often bewildering urban landscapes.

Hold on to your hats for a quick tour of Japan's physical and human geography.

Japan has 47 prefectures made up of 43 (県 ken), 2 urban prefectures (府 fu), Kyoto and Osaka, one capital Tokyo (都 to) and one "circuit" or "road" (道 do) Hokkaido.

Japan's four main islands are Hokkaido (北海道), Honshu (本州), Shikoku (四国) and Kyushu (九州). shu (州) is state - so Honshu is literally "main state," and Kyushu "nine states." koku (国) is country or land, so in Japan we have chugoku (中国) - which in this case is not the country name China(which has the same kanji characters) but the area of southwestern Japan centered on Hiroshima and Shimane Prefectures and Shikoku "four lands" - the island south of Chugoku.

Other useful geographical terms to know are: island shima or jima (島), mountain yama or san (山), sea umi or kai (海), river kawa (川), cape saki (崎), lake ike (池) and peninsula hanto (半島) lit. 'half island'. Thus we have Hiroshima (広島), Sadoshima, (佐渡島), Higashiyama (東山), Nagasaki (長崎) and Noto Hanto (能登半島).

The cardinal directions are easily learnt and crop up everywhere: North (kita or hoku; 北), South (minami or nan/nam; 南), East (higashi or to; 東) and West (nishi or sei; 西).

Japan Place Names

Now to Japanese addresses: the address will consist of a 7-digit zip code yuubinbango (郵便番号), followed by the prefecture (though this is usually omitted), city name -shi (市), ward -ku (区) and then your apartment or house name. The administrative term -gun (郡) is often found in the countryside.

Wards are often named for directions, thus nishi-ku (西区), higashi-ku (東区), minami-ku (南区) or kita-ku (北区) - plus chuo-ku (中央区) and naka-ku (中区) (central and middle/inner ward respectively).

Roads are rarely signposted in Japan but the name for road or street is doro 道路 or confusingly dori 通り. Hence Shirakawadori (白川通り) in Kyoto - lit. 'white river street' - but that brings us on to the colors and we'll leave that for another Japanese class.

Last week's Japanese lesson

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yon-Sama (Bae Yong Joon)

Yon-sama in Seoul subwayヨン様

Bae Yong Joon, or more commonly known as Yon-sama to his fans in Japan, is the Korean mega-star who makes middle-aged Japanese women dizzy with desire.

He featured in several films and television drams in Korea prior to making it big in Japan. His big break came with "Winter Sonata," in 2002, a maudlin drama which had as much as 20% of Japan tuned in.

This set off Yon-Sama mania--and the ensuing Korea Wave. Every month seemed to bring a new male or female mega-star, each better looking than the previous one. All Japanese DVD stores now have whole aisles devoted to Korean dramas.
In 2004, when Bae visited Japan at the height of the hysteria some 5,000 screaming fans were waiting for him at Narita Airport. In order to keep the hormonally enraged women in line, 350 police officers and 70 anti-riot cops were posted to the airport.

In Seoul recently, our hopes of bumping into Yon-sama were realized.

On the final day, in the subway station, there he was.

As handsome as ever, a billboard pitch man for Global Pioneer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Flower Auction Japan

フラワー オークション ジャパン
Flower Auction Japan.
Flowers, more flowers, and things you hardly even realized were flowers. The Flower Auction Japan, in Tokyo, is a veritable zoo of all things floral. It is also features a constant human hubbub of visitors and buyers, milling around the stalls inspecting the wares, or sitting amidst the shouts in the tiered auction room finger poised over the electronic bidding console.

The Flower Auction Japan is in Tokyo’s Ohta ward, only a few minutes drive from Haneda Airport. Officially it is the premises of the Flower and Ornamental Plant Department of Ohta Market, the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Market, a market concern that also includes a separate fruit and vegetable department, and a seafood department, both located nearby. It has been operating since 1988.

I visited it on a public holiday which, because it was a Monday, meant business as usual for the Flower Auction Japan, but, because it was a public holiday, meant less business than usual, too.

Flower Auction Japan auction room.

Photography was permitted, so long as no flash was used, and it was an atmosphere of complete laissez faire as the idly curious, like myself, and those whose livelihoods depended on it all, browsed, snapped pictures, talked to stall keepers, and participated in the auction.

Flower Auction Japan is about 10 minutes on foot from the Tokyo Monorail Ryutsu Center Station.

Check out the English language Flower Auction Japan website for more details.

Flower Auction Japan, er, flowers?.

Flower Auction Japan flower stalls.

Monday, November 10, 2008

SL Yamaguchi Go Steam Train

SL やまぐち号

One of the last remaining steam trains operating in Japan is the SL Yamaguchi-Go which runs between Shin Yamaguchi station in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Tsuwano in the mountains of Shimane Prefecture.

SL Yamaguchi Go

The train operates between March and November, and runs most weekends and on national holidays.

SL Yamaguchi Go

The 69 kilometre journey up into the mountains takes about 2 hours, and 20 minutes faster on the downhill return leg. It leaves Shin Yamaguchi at 10:30 am and arrives at Tsuwano at 12:30 pm. 3 hours later it returns, giving enough time to look around the popular tourist destination of Tsuwano.

SL Yamaguchi Go

The rebuilt steam locomotive was originally built in 1937, and is a C57 class 4-6-2 (2-C-1) Pacific-type - built by Kawasaki.

Each of the train carriages has been outfitted in the style of a different era.

It is very popular, so advance bookings are necessary.

SL Yamaguchi Go
Tel: 0570 002486

SL Yamaguchi Go

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Japan This Week: 9 November 2008


Japan News.An Enclave of Brazilians Is Testing Insular Japan

New York Times

South Korea protests Japan's inspection of fishing boat

People's Daily

Toyota profit warning ends years of growth


Tamogami behind 78 other ASDF essay entries?

Japan Times

Japanese convenience stores thrive despite downturn

Washington Post

Japanese Stores Take Convenience To a New Level

Washington Post

Japan struggles with WWII legacy


TV, print scribe Chikushi dies at 73


Ichiro wins eighth straight gold glove

Yahoo! Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Average Salaries, 2007

Salaryman: 4.37 million (Men: 5.4 million, Women: 2.7 million)
Banking: 7.42 million
Finance: 8.3 million
Insurance: 7.85 million
Real Estate: 7.2 million
Shipping: 8.07 million
Travel: 4.7 million
Advertising: 7.6 million
Sushi Restaurant: 4.6 million

Source: Nenshu Labo

A record number of seniors were arrested in 2007. The number has quadrupled since 1997, reaching 48,605 last year. This figure excludes traffic-related offenses.

The majority, 31,573, were arrested for theft.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Government offices misused 125.36 billion yen in fiscal 2007.

Source: Board of Audit

There were 5,258 complaints of workplace harassment in Tokyo in 2007.

Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Labor Consultation Center

A record 430,000 people climbed Mount Fuji in 2007.

Source: Japan Times

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Noritake Garden


Noritake Garden, a short walk from Nagoya Station, is an interesting open-air museum and a good place to meet Japanese friends for an al fresco meal or a drink.

Noritake Garden, Nagoya

The present-day Noritake ceramics company was founded by Ichizaemon Morimura in 1904. Morimura began his business exporting Japanese antiques overseas in the 1870s, but switched to making European-style tableware in the early 20th century.

The Noritake Gardens' site contains the original red-brick buildings and kilns of the first Noritake ceramics factory as well as the Noritake Craft Center, a Noritake shop, restaurants, gardens and a cafe.

The 4-storey Noritake Craft Center (open 10am-5pm; 500 yen) displays the different processes in ceramic production including pottery shaping, firing, glazing and china painting. You can also try your hand at making and painting your own ceramics. On the 3rd and 4th floors are the Noritake Museum with a collection of historic china including pieces in Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles.

Noritake Garden, Nagoya

The "Celabo" Noritake Showroom (open 10am-6pm; free) next door has more demonstrations of ceramic production plus modern applications of Noritake ceramic technology as used in electronics and industry and some exquisite tableware on display in its shop.

The original brick factory buildings in Noritake Garden were in use until 1975. One of them has been renamed "Canvas" and has a history of world ceramics displayed inside. The "Kiln" restaurant (Tel: 052 561 7304 ) nearby serves European cuisine, mainly French and Italian on Noritake's famed tableware.

Noritake Garden, Nagoya

If you are looking to buy Noritake ceramics, the site has 3 main outlets: "Stage" Noritake Prestigious Shop for high-end pieces, Noritake "Palette" offers a collection of other companies tableware and "Box" has more affordable Noritake items.

Noritake Garden, Nagoya

The grass lawn behind the brick buildings and the biotope garden are lovely places to stroll and look back at the skyscrapers rising above Nagoya Station from the old brick kilns.

Noritake Square
1-36, Noritake-Shinmachi 3-chome
Tel: 052 561 7114

A 15-minute walk from Nagoya Station or 5 minutes from Kamejima Subway Station on the Higashiyama Line.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Four Stories - Osaka December 2008

On December 7, Acclaimed expat literary series from the US comes again to Japan
OSAKA, JAPAN, November 3, 2008—The internationally acclaimed literary series Four Stories, which runs in Boston (USA), Osaka, and Tokyo, kicks off its winter 2008 season on December 7 in Osaka, with readings from the following globally published expat authors:
• Peter Mallett, Longtime Japan resident and essayist widely published in newspapers and magazines in Japan, the UK and US; former Arts Editor of Kansai Time Out; founder and former editor for the journal Artspace; and recipient of an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Bath Spa
• Wendy Jones Nakanishi, Professor of English Literature at Shikoku Gakuin University; author of essays from Kyoto Journal, Tales from a Small Planet, and more; and recipient of a PhD in English from Edinburgh University
• Tracy Slater, Writer who divides her time between Boston and Osaka; lecturer in writing at Boston University; author of essays from Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Kansai Time Out, and more; columnist for the Asahi Weekly and Kansai Scene; and recipient of a PhD in English and American literature from Brandeis University
• Ted Taylor, writer and musician living in Kyoto, whose work has appeared in Kyoto Journal and more; and winner of the 1999 Kyoto International Cultural Association Essay Contest

Plus the Four Stories style of literary criticism: Ask the best question, win a free drink!
The Four Stories experience: like a 19th-Century salon, only 150 years later_same socializing, same witty banter, corsets optional.

Portugalia: Osaka's hippest Portuguese bar and grill
Sunday, December 7, 6-8pm (venue opens @ 5)
Nishi-Tenma 4-12-11, Umeda, Osaka [Just north of the American Consulate]
Admittance free and open to the public
More information, plus free MP3s and pictures from past events, @ fourstories.org
Four Stories in the Japanese Press:
The Japan Times (6/22/07): Four Stories is featured on the front page of the Japan Times' national section, which reports, "'Four Stories has helped make Osaka the new Kyoto'....Slater and Four Stories have shown that Osaka's image among some foreign literary critics as a cultural desert is no longer entirely accurate”; Kansai Scene (6/1/07): Four Stories Japan is "re-energizing the reading movement " in Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe: Being a Broad magazine (1/1/08) : spotlights Four Stories founder Tracy Slater and the literary series, writing, "The expat community is grateful" for Four Stories.
Four Stories in the US Press:
Improper Bostonian (8/1/08): “Best Literary Series”; Boston Globe (10/1/06) :"Four Stories is the city's hippest reading series" (3/19/06) "Everybody knows about Four Stories, everybody raves about Four Stories, and Four Stories is…the place to be”

Tracy Slater, Ph.D
Founder, Four Stories Boston & Four Stories Japan
Japan: 080-5302-3907; Boston: 617-544-3907


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Kyoto Utano Youth Hostel

Kyoto Utano Youth Hostel京都市宇多野ユースホステル

Just off the winding road that heads out of western Kyoto, from the Golden Pavilion past Ryoanji Temple and Ninnaji Temple, is the recently renovated Kyoto Utano Youth Hostel.

It was until recently a forlorn, beat-up, pre-fab structure. Now it is Japanese modern at its very best.

It is all beautiful wood flooring, a sloped tile roof, understated landscaping, tatami rooms--it is spectacular.

The new hostel has 29 dormitory rooms (4-6 people/room); in addition, there are four twins and eight triples.

Fees for the dorm rooms are 3,300 yen/night for those 19 or older (2,800 yen/night for children). The twins are 4,000/yen night (3,500 yen/night for children). All fees are per person.

Other facilities include a meeting room, tennis court, rent a cycle (600 yen/day), Internet (100 yen/20 minutes), and laundry.

Kyoto Utano Youth Hostel
In the front of the building is a spacious lawn; in the rear is a green courtyard.

Kyoto Youth Hostel

29 Nakayama-cho, Uzumasa, Ukyo-ku
Kyoto 616-8191
(075) 462-2288
email: utano@yh-kyoto.or.jp
Hostel web site



From Kyoto Station, get on at the B4 stop in front of the station. Take bus 26 to "Youth Hostel Mae."
From Keihan Sanjo, take bus 10 or 59 to "Youth Hostel Mae."
From Shijo Omiya, take bus 26 to "Youth Hostel Mae."
From Arashiyama, take bus 11 to "Yama goe Nake machi." 10 minute walk.


Take JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Station four local stops to Hanazono Station. A ten-minute cab ride.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kyujitsu - holidays


Kyujitsu (pronounced "queue-jeet-sue") means "holiday" in Japanese, the kyu meaning "rest" or "time off" and the jitsu meaning "day". At present there are 17 of them per year. For the vast majority of Japanese, these are supplemented by no more than a week of personal holidays, meaning that few people get more than a total of about three weeks off work per year.

For all its temperateness and beauty, fall is, for many people, somehow a rather tiring season as the weather cools down and the effects of summer's constant battle with the heat start to make themselves really felt. And, sure enough, the season features four days off as if in recognition of this.

21 September is Keiro no Hi, or Respect for the Aged Day. 23 September is Shubun no Hi, or the Autumnal Equinox. 12 October is Taiiku no Hi, or Sports Day. And 3 November, i.e. this Monday just past, is Bunka no Hi, or Culture Day.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, or, in the Japanese vernacular, quite simply "Study hard, play hard" – Yoku manabi, yoku asobe.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Love Hotel Roger


Hotel Roger is a Love Hotel on the eastern outskirts of Nagoya. The grandiose, baroque design, the out of town location and the shuttered windows are unmistakeable - this is a love hotel or fashion hotel where couples or sometimes a small group of people come for sexual enjoyment in a private atmosphere in a discreet location.

Love Hotel Roger

I just wonder if the owners or the guests are aware of the British slang meaning of "roger" - meaning to have sexual intercourse.

Love Hotel Roger

Hotel Roger
Tel: 0561 39 2200
Map of Hotel Roger

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