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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kyoto Heian Shrine Torii Gate

Heian Shrine, Kyoto京都平安神宮の鳥居

In the Okazaki section of Kyoto, in the heart of the city's museum area, stands the massive torii gate leading to Heian Jingu Shrine.

The torii is one of the largest in Japan. It is 24.2 meters tall, and the supporting beams are 3.63 meters in diameter.

This torii is located on the road between the Kyoto Municipal Museum (behind the pine trees at the right of the photo) and, on the opposite side of the road, the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art.

The shrine itself was built in 1895 to celebrate the 1,100 anniversary of the founding of Heiankyo (the ancient name for Kyoto). The shrine itself doesn't compare to the better known temples and shrines littered throughout the city, but the gardens are worth a visit.

Heian Shrine's main claim to fame is that it plays host to the annual Jidai Matsuri Festival. Unless you have an interest in period dress - "Jidai Matsuri" literally means historical period festival - it is a rather tame affair. College students are hired to parade throughout the city in costumes representing various periods in the city's history.

In addition to the above museums, the Kyoto Zoo, the Miyako Messe (a large convention hall), the Hosomi Museum, and of course Heian Jingu Shrine are a short walk.


From JR/Kintetsu Kyoto Station, take bus #5 from boarding area A1 headed for Iwakura Soshajo. Get off at Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae. From Hankyu Karasuma Station/Kawaramachi Station or Keihan Sanjo Station Kyoto City Bus No. 5 (headed for Iwakura Soshajo). Get off at Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae. Or a five-minute walk from the Higashiyama Station on the Tozai subway line

© Japan Visitor.com

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kyoto City Hall

kyoto city hall京都市役所

Kyoto City Hall is an oppressive pile located at the corner of Kawaramachi - Oike, just north of downtown.

Designed by Goiichi Murata, the main building (pictured at right) was completed in 1927.

It is perhaps the only pre-War building in the city that would not be mourned if it were to meet the omnivorous Kyoto wrecking ball.

Stalinist in both design and scale, the building is forbidding and cold. Entering is like traveling back in time - to a period full of bespectacled men in white shirts hidden behind piles on their desks, halls filled to brimming with cardboard boxes, and windows that have not been cleaned in decades.

Fortunately, most Kyoto residents - Japanese or otherwise - will never need to go to City Hall as most of bureaucratic life in Japan is handled at the ward office level.

Kyoto City Hall, Kyoto.

In front of the main building is a massive open treeless space - freezing and windswept in winter, parched and broiling in summer - where a flea market is held on the first Sunday of the month.

At the east end of of the main building is a list of Kyoto's sister/friendship cities: Boston, Paris, Cologne, Kiev, Florence, Xian, Prague, Guadalajara, Jinju, and Zagreb. There are plaques and even gifts from some of the cities (see below) on display.

What is worth doing, however, is wandering the area near City Hall: Teramachi Dori.

The narrow street on the east end of City all is Teramachi Dori. If you go north, there are many shops and restaurants along a tree-lined street without too much traffic. This will take you to The Screen, a boutique hotel, and finally to the Imperial Palace.


Take the Tozai subway line to Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae. If you wandering in the downtown area, walk up to Karasuma-Oike.

Telephone: 075-222-3094

© Japan Visitor.com

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Japanese Slang

Japanese Slang.

For this week’s blog, a few more catchy terms that will probably draw blank or quizzical expressions – but may however endear you to a certain small sliver of the population.

ユニバレ (yunibare)

This combines “yuni”and “bare.” Yuni is the first bit of Uniqlo, the Japanese low-cost apparel company. Bare is from the Japanese very ばれる(bareru), which means to expose, become known. Thus, “yunibare” is when your friends or people around you realize you are wearing very inexpensive clothing.

おもてなし婚 (omotenashi kon)

“Omotenashi” is what restaurants, inns, and bars do – take care, welcome, please their clients. “Kon” is the second half of 結婚(けっこん、 wedding, marriage). Thus, “omotenashi kon” is a wedding that has pleasing the guests as its highest priority.

カレセン (karesen) refers to women in their mid- to late-30s who prefer men in their 50s or older. This is a play on words. かれ(kare, which means "he" or "him")can mean 彼(かれ、he)- which is used in 彼氏(kareshi, boyfriend)- or 枯れ (かれ、withered).

The second half is 専(sen), which means expert or specialist.

Last is slang based in Kanto, particularly in Shibuya: チョリース(chori-su). This is “hello,” “right, got it,” “I understand.”Allegedly, television talent Yukina Kinoshita was the originator of the term. From these humble beginnings, the term spread.

© Japan Visitor.com

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Japan Cupid

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Suzuka Street Car National Festival


The 12th annual Street Car National Event was held on June 1 of 2008 and was enjoyed by record numbers of car enthusiasts. The event attracts a wide variety of people ranging from young singles, to families and retirees.

Suzuka Street Car National Festival

Appropriately located near the Suzuka Circuit Speedway (of F1 fame) the cars (over 500 of them) are displayed on the Auto Camp Field. While billed as primarily featuring Japanese and American customized cars, models from many other countries may be seen.

Suzuka Street Car National Festival

The level and quality of customization are truly amazing, matched only by colorful presenters and spectators. Food services are available featuring an international mix of "fast food". The event closes with a contest and the announcement of winners in several categories.

Suzuka Street Car National Festival

Entrance fees are: ¥1,700 for adults (¥1,400 advance sales) ¥800 for children not yet in high school. (¥700 advance sales) Pre-school children (up to a group of three) are free.

Suzuka Street Car National Festival

The event is held for one day only from 9am-3pm.
Tel: 059 378 1111

Suzuka is in Mie Prefecture not far from Nagoya city by public transport. Take a Kintetsu or JR train from Nagoya Station or Osaka Station.

© Edward Scruggs & JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kanagawa Prefecture Manhole Covers


Enjoy these manhole covers from Kanagawa Prefecture kindly sent to us by Gene Melson. Japanese manhole covers often present the main attractions and characteristics of their localities. Thus the ports of Yokohama and Yokosuka have suitably nautical themes and an image of the American navy commander Commodore Perry, who landed in Yokosuka in 1853.

Japanese manhole covers are a unique form of street design and definitely worth keeping your eyes to the ground for.

Yokohama Manhole

Kanagawa Prefecture Manhole Cover

Can you see the face in this manhole cover (above)?

Kanagawa Prefecture Manhole Cover

Kanagawa Prefecture Manhole Cover

Kanagawa Prefecture Manhole Cover

If you have a manhole cover shot and wish to show it on this blog please contact us if you'd like us to display it.

Manhole Covers in Japan

More Manhole Covers - Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Shimane, Hiroshima

Images by Gene Melson

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chionin Temple Kyoto

Chion-in, Kyoto知恩院

Kyoto's Chionin Temple is a large, spacious complex in the hills of Higashiyama, the mountains in the east of the city.

The temple was founded by Honen in 1294, and is most famous for having the largest temple bell in Japan.

On a recent and strangely warm Sunday, we wandered up from the museums, in Okazaki, and after hiking up the steps wandered the grounds.

Many visitors were in t-shirts - in February!

The chanting of priests in the main hall could be heard.

Next to me a woman lit sticks of incense and, after placing them in a small structure for that purpose directly in front of the main hall prayed.

If you enter the main hall, the floor boards will squeak under foot. This is not the result of aging or poor craftsmanship. As in other temples, this was done as a way of warning of burglars or politically motivated intruders, particularly as the Tokugawa family often stayed at the temple.

Much of the temple complex is free.

Admission Fee; 9am-4 or 4.30pm.


A 15-20 minute walk from Shijo Keihan Station, or 10 minutes from Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line. The temple is north of Yasaka Shrine and adjacent to Maruyama Park. By bus, take 2, 46, 201, or 20 and get off at Chionin-mae.

© Japan Visitor.com

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Japan This Week - 22 February 2009


Japan News.Japan’s Economy Plunges at Fastest Pace Since ’74

NY Times

Japan’s Finance Minister Nakagawa Shoichi to Quit After G-7 Blunder

NY Times

'Drunk' Japanese minister slurs speech at press conference

You Tube

A silver lining for Japan


Japan turns to 'work-sharing' to avoid layoffs

Washington Post

Japan's agricultural bank scrambles for £15bn

Times on Line

UNESCO: 8 languages in Japan could disappear


Midnight Eye's Best (and worst) of 2008

Midnight Eye

When Consumers Cut Back: A Lesson From Japan

NY Times

50 hurt in Tokyo plane plunge


Golf-Missed cut part of the learning curve for teen Ishikawa

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Tokyo had a net outflow of people for the first time in 9 years in the month of December 2008 - 73 people! The annual inflow of residents also declined in 2008. In 2008, the net inflow of residents into Tokyo was 83,000, the highest of Japan's prefectures ahead of Kanagawa, Chiba & Aichi.

Source: International Affairs & Communications Ministry

Tokyo's taxis declined in number in December 2008 to 54,863 - a drop of 546 cabs from the previous December. The average daily income for a cab operating in central Tokyo was 46,932 yen - a decline of 14% on the previous 12 months.

Source: Kanto District Transport Bureau

Pedestrian deaths topped vehicle deaths for the first time in 34 years in 2008. Of the 5,115 traffic-related deaths in Japan in 2008, 1,721 were pedestrians compared to 1,710 passengers or drivers of vehicles. There were 990 deaths involving motorcycles and 717 fatalities involving bicycles.

Source: National Police Agency

The number of foreign nationals who overstayed their visas has halved from 219,000 to 113,000 over the last five years. The number of illegal immigrants also fell in the same period from an estimated 30,000 to between 15-23,000.

Source: Justice Ministry

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hotel Sunroute Plaza Nagoya


The Hotel Sunroute Plaza is a medium-priced business hotel near to Nagoya Station, not far from Noritake Garden.

Hotel Sunroute Nagoya

Services include a free newspaper, internet service in the room, pay PC in the lobby, a restaurant and a convenience store right next door.

Hotel Sunroute Nagoya

Hotel Sunroute Nagoya
2-35-24 Meieki
Tel: 052 571 2221

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Japanese gay terms

Japanese gay terms.
ゲイ 日本語

Like gay scenes anywhere, the Japanese gay scene has its own lingo. Let's look at a few of the most common phrases heard amongst Japanese gay guys.

gei pronounced "gay". An easy start to the lesson.

kotchi = family: The word kochi or, with a lingering lilt on the "ch," kotchi ("cot chee") literally, and quite simply, means "here" or "on this side." It's not too big a stretch of the imagination to interpret it as "someone of the same group as myself," or, in English gay parlance, "family".
"Ano hito wa kotchi kana?" "That person's family, isn't he?"

okama = fag, poof: the noun kama means pot, as in a large pot used for cooking stews in, originally over an open fire - more like "cauldron," perhaps. Add an honorific "o" to the front of it, and you have the Japanese word for "fag" or "poof" - etymology unknown.

nonke = straight: the roots of the word are obscure, but nonke simply means "straight," "hetero."
tachi = top: the verb tatsu means "to stand". Tachi is the noun derived from that verb, i.e. "something that stands," or "a top".

ukemi = bottom: the verb ukeru means to "take, receive, accept," thus uke (receiving) mi (body, party) means "one who receives," or, "a bottom."

neko = bottom: neko literally means "cat". It has exactly the same meaning as ukemi, but in a slangier way.

riba = versatile. riba ("ree-ba") represents the first two syllables of the English word "reversible" - "versatile."

oneh - with the accent on "neh" - literally means "older sister," "big sister," and in gay parlance refers to a femme queen. The opposite, macho, is just what it sounds like.

chinchin, mara = penis. chinchin is a kid's word for penis, and mara is a more hardcore "grown-up" word for it. You'll hear both, the choice of words depending on the setting.

dekachin, dekamara = huge cock: dekkai (from which deka is derived) is an adjective meaning "huge". chin is an abbreviation of chinchin (see above), and mara is just mara (see above).

zaamen is Japanese for "cum" (the substance)

iku ("ee-koo") is Japanese for "come" (the action), as in "Ah,  ah, iku, iku!" ("Ah, ah, I'm coming, I'm coming!")

kintama = balls, testicles. Literally "golden" (kin) "balls" (tama). Get it?

shakuhachi - literally a traditional Japanese flute, means "blow job."

ketsu - means "ass" and ketsu-no-ana, "asshole"; the more kawaii oshiri would translate as "tush" or "buttocks."

Last week's Japanese lesson - Animals

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nagoya City Science Museum

The Nagoya City Science Museum in Shirakawa Park in Fushimi is one of Nagoya's most popular museums and a fun half-day trip for parents and children.

Nagoya City Science Museum
The Nagoya City Science Museum in 2009
The Nagoya City Science Museum has three buildings: a Life Science Building, Science & Technology Building and an Astronomy Building with a planetarium.

Nagoya City Science Museum, Aichi
The Nagoya City Science Museum After Its Renovation in 2012
The combined buildings have 19 floors of exhibition spaces with permanent exhibits on Electric Energy, Telecommunications, Communication Media, Dynamic Energy, Materials, Transportation, Disaster Prevention in the Science & Technology Building; Micro Life, Mechanisms Of Our Body, Food, Clothing, & Shelter, Environment - The Earth Of Tomorrow and a library and shop in the Life Science Building; plus the Planetarium, a Space Science floor and a Special Exhibition Hall in the Astronomy Building.

Astronomy Building, Nagoya City Science Museum
The Nagoya City Science Museum in 2009
Many of the exhibits are hands-on and the excellent 450-seat Planetarium has regular showings throughout the day. Every weekend and on public holidays at 10am & 2.30pm there are special shows for children with stunning visual effects.

The extensive model railways on the third floor in the transport section (one of the largest in the country) and the children's play area on the ninth floor are particularly popular with kids.

Nagoya City Science Museum, Fushimi, Nagoya
The Nagoya City Science Museum & Hayabusa Rocket

The Astronomy Building opened in 1962, followed by the Science & Technology Building in 1964 and the Life Science Building later in 1989.

Nagoya City Science Museum
2-17-1 Sakae
Tel: 052 201 4486
Hours: 9.30am-5pm; closed Mondays
Admission: Museum & Planetarium adults 600 yen; junior high school children and younger free; Museum only adults 300 yen


Nagoya City Science Museum is adjacent to the Nagoya City Art Museum in Shirakawa Park and a stroll from the Electricity Museum.
The museum is 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 Science Museum, Aichi Prefecture
Nagoya City Science Museum, Shirakawa Park, Fushimi, Nagoya

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yokai Gallery

妖怪 (ようかい)

All these are statues of Yokai found along the Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato. Sakaiminato is a port town on the Japan Sea, in Tottori prefecture, Japan.

GeGeGe no Kitaro, Sakaiminato, Tottori

The first yokai statue is the most famous of all the manga characters created by Shigeru, GeGeGe no Kitaro, star of many manga, animes and movies. Born in a graveyard from a father who is an eyeball, Kitaro is 300 years old. He is missing one eye and so his hair usually covers half his face.

Kappa Yokai, Sakaiminato, Tottori

The second are Kappa, known as water-sprites in English. There are stories of kappa from all over Japan. They live in irrigation ditches, wells, ponds, and rivers. Known to drown children, kappa can be appeased by writing the name of your child on a piece of kappazushi, a type of sushi made using cucumbers, and throwing it into the river and the kappa won't take your child.


The third is a Gangikozo, a fish-eating water monster possibly related to the kappa.

The fourth is a Sazaeoni, literally Turban Snail Ogre. Sazaeoni are created when a turban snail reaches the age of 30. Sazaeoni, like kappa and kitsune among others, are of a class of creatures known as obake, and have the ability to transform into the appearance of humans.


An old story tells of pirates who rescued a beautiful young woman from the sea. After having sex with her, the woman (an oni) cut off the pirates' testicles and when they threw her back into the sea, she transformed again into her true form.

The yokai Ratman

The last is another invention of Shigeru, Nezumi Otoko, half human, half yokai, known as Ratman. He assists Kitaro in many of his adventures and has not taken a bath in 300 years, so is known for his smell.

More than 100 Yokai statues can be found along the Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato.

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com

Nakagawa Shoichi Drunk?


The latest calamity to befall the cabinet of hapless Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, was the "drunken" performance of his Minister of Finance, Shoichi Nakagawa, at a G7 meeting in Rome.

Nakagawa blamed his slurred performance on a heavy dose of cold medicine and jet lag. Nakagawa claimed he's imbibed no more than a glass of wine on his flight over from Japan. Nakagawa, who is known to like a drink, says he will resign after the government has passed its latest finance bill in the Japanese Diet and not before.

"I feel terribly sorry for the Japanese public as well as the Diet that such footage and words of mine were conveyed to the world," a contrite Mr Nakagawa told a parliamentary panel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mizuki Shigeru Road & GeGeGe Kitaro


Mizuki Shigeru is a well known manga author known mostly as the creator of the popular GeGeGe Kitaro series of manga, TV shows and full-length movies. His work is populated with dozens of Yokai, supernatural beings that include monsters, ghosts, and goblins.

Mizuki Shigeru Road, Tottori

Born in Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, his home town has honored him (and made a substantial income from tourism) with his own museum and street.

Mizuki Shigeru Road

The Mizuki Shigeru Road runs 800 metres from the main station to the Mizuki Shigeru Memorial Museum, and along both sides of the street are more than 100 sculptures of many of his yokai.

Mizuki Shigeru Road

As well as the bronze sculptures, yokai appear everywhere along the road. The street lights are giant eyeballs, the eyeball being Kitaro's father, the trains on the Sakai Line are decorated with yokai on the inside and out, there is a Yokai Shrine, and many of the gift shops along the road have their own yokai art adorning them.

Mizuki Shigeru Road

The giftshops sell just about any imaginable product with yokai designs.
The Museum itself has a large collection of Shigeru's material and includes 3 screens showing videos of animated yokai.

Mizuki Shigeru Road

The museum is open 9 – 5 (closed Tuesdays. If a National Holiday falls on a Tuesday then the next day is closed)
Adults 700 yen
Junior High & High School students 500yen
Elementary school students 300 yen
Mitsuki Shigeru Memorial Museum (in Japanese)
Tel: 0859 42 2171

Sakaiminato is located at the northern tip of Yumigahama Peninsular in west Tottori Prefecture, and is one of Japan's most important fishing ports.

It is served by nearby Yonago Airport, and is the terminal of the JR Sakai line which runs from Yonago.

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com

GeGeGe no Kitaro 4

Monday, February 16, 2009

Goldfish in Kyoto - Ninenzaka

Kyoto Goldfish, Ninenzaka京都人魚

On a recent stroll in eastern hills of Kyoto, we came across an ornamental pond in front of a traditional shop along the Ninenzaka.

The tiny pond was filled with brightly colored goldfish.

Ninenzaka is a narrow sloping along the tourist route that runs from just below Kiyomizu Dera, down to Nene no Michi. There you can see Kodaiji Temple, and contine down to Gion.

The man made pond ran the length of the left side of the front of the store, and there were about 10 black or orange goldfish swimming happily.

The shallow pond had pebbles and aquatic plants.

On a cold February morning, the shock of color - orange and black, dark green and light green - set against the more traditional wood and slate was welcome and warming.

© Japan Visitor.com

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Japan This Week - 15 February 2009


Japan News. Nissan to cut 20,000 jobs


Early heat wave spurs warnings

Japan Times

The 'Jewish conspiracy' in Asia


Clinton to Meet Families of Abducted Japanese

Washington Post

Panasonic message to staff: you’ve sung the company song, now you must go and buy our goods

Times on Line

Kickbacks paid for Canon inc. contracts


Movie Review: "Now, I..."

Midnight Eye

Japan corporate bankruptcies soar


Shinya Aoki, "Mach" Sakurai booked for DREAM welterweight grand prix

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics


1. El Salvador: 92.3
2. Colombia: 73.4
3. Venezuela: 64.2
4. Guatemala: 55.4
5. Brazil: 51.6
15. South Africa: 16.6
70. Greece: 0.5
76. Japan: 0.3

Source: Ritla, Instituto Sangari

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 14, 2009

John Lennon Museum Saitama


The John Lennon Museum closed on 30 September, 2010

John Lennon Museum Saitama
A couple of friends and I took advantage of the day off (National Foundation Day) to visit the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, about 45 minutes from Tokyo's Shinjuku district. We took the JR Saikyo Line to Akabane Station, and then changed to the JR Takatsuki Line to Saitama Shintoshin Station. It's only 3 minute's walk from the station.

The John Lennon Museum is housed in the very modern Saitama Super Arena, and shares the Arena's stylishness and spaciousness. Almost church-like in its atmosphere, the John Lennon Musuem is a meticuously detailed record of Lennon's life. The expertly presented displays take you on a fascinating tour through 9 phases of his existence, from "Childhood Memories," then "Rock and Roll," "The Beatles," "New York City," etc., culminating in "Househusband".

Did I say Lennon's life? Who could forget Yoko Ono? And this may as well be called the "John Lennon/Yoko Ono Museum" because of the almost inordinate amount of attention she gets - unsurprisingly, as the Museum was set up in 1980 (on what would have been Lennon's 60th birthday) with her co-operation, and most, if not all, of the memorabilia there belongs to her.

The Yoko Ono bias is so strong that her work and life even before she met Lennon gets a lot of coverage, while first wife Cynthia gets barely a mention.

Nevertheless, this in no way detracts from the Museum's excellence. It is professional to the nth degree, each of the multifarious displays demands attention, and the spaciousness and clean, modern lines of the Museum make it a pleasant space to be in. Perhaps most importantly, you don't have to be a Beatles - or Lennon, or Ono - fan to get something memorable out of it.

Read more about the John Lennon Museum here

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 13, 2009

Japan's Recession In Numbers


In 2008 Japan's exports fell by 27% on the previous year.

Japan's sovereign debt stands at 195% of GDP.

Japan's current account surplus fell 34.3% in 2008 to 16.28 trillion yen - a record drop.

Hello Work Job Center

The IMF predicts Japan's economy will contract 2.5% this year.

Industrial production fell 8.1% in the 2008 October-November period - the largest fall since records began in 1953.

Domestic sales of automobiles in Japan are the lowest for 34 years. January 2009 sales of new cars dropped 27.9% to 174,281 units. Of the big 3 Japanese car manufacturers, Toyota Corp sales were down 22%, Honda 31% and Nissan 31%.

In response to the recession, the LDP government of Prime Minister Taro Aso will offer every person in Japan a 12,000 yen (US$131) handout as part of a larger 75 trillion yen economic stimulus package.

The world's number one automaker, Toyota, announced an expected operating loss of 450 billion yen for the financial year ending in March 2009.

Japan Airlines (JAL) predicts a 37 billion yen loss for the year. The electronics giants Pioneer, Toshiba, Panasonic and NEC forecast group operating losses of 17 billion yen, 280 billion yen, 100 billion yen and 30 billion yen respectively.

The BOJ survey of the nation's largest manufacturers sees business confidence at a rate of minus 24.

An estimated 6,000 full-time workers will lose their jobs in the six-month period through March 2009 in addition to 124,800 non-regular workers.

Retail sales fell 2.7% in December 2008 and again in January 2009 with five of the major Japanese department stores reporting a drop in consumer spending. Daimaru, Matsuzakaya, Takashimaya, Isetan and Mitsukoshi all reported feeling the "Toyota Shock" - the fallout from the negative numbers at Japan's largest automaker.

Japan's food self-sufficiency is 40%; energy self-sufficiency 4%. Japan has 2% of the world's populationand 0.2% of the world's land.

Sources: Daily Yomiuri, Japan Times, Kansai Time Out, Japan Inc

© Japan Visitor.com

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Animals in Japanese


Listen to the animals in Japanese from Joji

We have already looked at parts of the body, the numbers in Japanese, colors and days of the week, another rich source of vocabulary is the world of animals.

Dog (inu 犬), cat (neko 猫), bird (tori 鳥), fox, (kitsune 狐), elephant (zo ぞう), mouse (nezumi ねずみ), tiger (tora 虎), lion (rion ライオン), cow (ushi 牛), pig (buta 豚), sheep (hitsuji 羊), whale (kujira 鯨), turtle (kame 亀), bear (kuma 熊), rabbit (usagi ウサギ), goat (yagi 山羊), snake (hebi 蛇), dolphin (iruka イルカ/海豚), crane (tsuru 鶴), rhino (sai サイ), walrus (seiuchi セイウチ), spider (kumo クモ), mosquito (ka 蚊).

Some names of animals are more often written in katakana than kanji, there seems to be no hard and fast rules, except where the name is taken from a foreign language such as lion (rion リオン), where the word is written in katakana.

There are some interesting compounds such as goat as "mountain sheep", hedghog as "needle-mouse" (harinezumi) and dolphin as "sea pig." Animals are also common in Japanese place names such as Kumamoto (熊本) in Kyushu and Tsuruhashi (鶴橋) in Osaka.

Expressions using animals are common in Japanese and the book Japanese Proverbs and Sayings by Daniel Crump Buchanan has a number of proverbs dedicated to animals. Perhaps the most famous is: saru mo ki kara ochiru 猿も木から落ちる - meaning everyone can make a mistake. One not heard so much nowadays is neko ni koban 猫に小判 (lit. 'gold coins to a cat' so casting pearls to swine).

Last week's Japanese lesson

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yumeminato Tower Sakaiminato


At only 43 metres in height, the Yumeminato Tower is dwarfed by most of Japan's observation towers, but with good weather the 360 degree view takes in Mount Daisen, the tallest mountain in the Chugoku region, Miho Bay, and the Nakauma Inland Sea with Daikon Island. If the weather is not so clear then the interior structure of the tower is fascinating in itself.

Yumeminato Tower, Sakaiminato, Tottori

Included in the entrance to the tower is entrance to the Pacific Rim Exchange Village, a kind of museum focusing on the traditional cultures of Japan's neighbors, China, Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia etc.

Yumeminato Tower, Sakaiminato

The highlight for me is the large yurt that one can go inside. Mindful of the Japanese penchant for cosplay, there are traditional costumes from the different countries that can be tried on and be photographed in.

Yumeminato Tower, Sakaiminato

Also included in the admission fee is entrance to an exhibition of monsters, ghouls, and other supernatural beings that populate the work of manga author Mizuki Shigeru who was born in Sakaiminato.

Yumeminato Tower, Sakaiminato

Yumeminato Tower is open from 9 to 6 (April – Sep) and 9 to 5 (Oct – Mar)
Adults 300 yen, kids 150 yen.

Yumeminato Tower is closed on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

Sakaiminato is located at the northern tip of Yumigahama Peninsular in west Tottori Prefecture, and is one of Japan's most important fishing ports. The fishing boat arrested recently by the Russians came from Sakaiminato.

Yumeminato Tower, Sakaiminato

Sakaiminato is served by nearby Yonago Airport, and is the terminal of the JR Sakai line which runs from Yonago.

Yumeminato Tower (in Japanese)
Tel: 0859 47 3800

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Satsuki and Mei's House


Satsuki and Mei are two of the lead characters in the hugely popular anime movie My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki. In the movie, the Kusakabe family moves to a large house in the Japanese countryside from Tokyo.

Satsuki and Mei's House

The magical and spiritual nature of their new home is full of exciting adventures for the two girls, Satsuki and Mei, may be haunted, and stands in counterpoint to the sterility of the city they have just left.

The house from the popular movie was recreated for Expo 2005 in Nagoya and was one of the most popular pavilions. It remains popular still, with hundreds of people, visiting each day, especially at the weekends.

Satsuki and Mei's House

The house was designed by My Neighbor Totoro's director, Hayao Miyazaki, and is a faithful reproduction of a 1950's era Japanese country house down to the smallest details, with a delightful bathroom, study, garden and well.

Arrive early to get a booking or book in advance, each tour of the house lasts 30 minutes and you may have to wait at least an hour to get on one of the 14 daily tours, if you visit hoping for a same-day tour. There is a viewing platform built outside the house to look down on the buildings and gardens, if you can't get in.

Satsuki & Mei's House
Tel: 0561 64 1130; Fax: 0561 61 2150
Hours: 9.30am-16.30pm
Admission: 500 yen (adults); 250 yen (children)

Satsuki and Mei's House


Satsuki and Mei's House is situated in the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park. To get there take the Nagoya subway to Fujigaoka on the Higashiyama Line, then change to the Linimo and get off at Ai Chikyuhaku Kinen Koen. It is a 15 minute walk to the house or there are free shuttle buses. There are also Meitetsu buses to the park or take the Aichi Loop Line from Toyota and change to the Linimo at Yakusa.

My Neighbor Totoro - A Film by Hayao Miyazaki

Monday, February 09, 2009

Electricity Museum Nagoya


Nagoya's Electricity Museum in Fushimi is an educational and fun visit especially for parents with young children.

The four-story modern building, maintained by Chubu Electric Power Company, has dioramas and hands-on equipment on all aspects of electricity: its production, transport and use. Kids (and their parents) can learn about the pioneers behind the development of electrical power including Thomas Edison and Alessandro Volta.

Electricity Museum Nagoya

The Ohm Theater has a large screen with interactive games and quizzes for the audience. Tours can be arranged in English if you reserve one week in advance.

There are similar museums dedicated to electricity in Japan and run by the regional electricity generating companies, including the TEPCO Electric Energy Museum in Shibuya (closed after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima).

Electricity Museum Nagoya


Electricity Museum
Sakae 2-2-5
Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0008
Tel: 052 201 1026
Hours: 9.30-5.30pm; closed Monday
Admission: Free

The museum is a short walk from Fushimi Station on the Tsurumai and Higashiyama subway lines. Take Exit #4 from Fushimi Station. The loop bus stops nearby at Hirokoji-hommachi.
The museum is close to the Nagoya City Science Museum and Nagoya City Art Museum in Shirakawa Park.

© Japan Visitor.com

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Japan This Week - 8 February 2009


Japan News.Princesses preen in a pauper economy


Japan’s Big-Works Stimulus Is Lesson for U.S.

New York Times

In Japan, jobless lack safety net.

New York Times

In the Red, Toyota Sees Loss Tripling

New York Times

Cell broadcasts could help avert catastrophe


Protest ship hits whaling vessel


Lawmaker demands Japan PM apologize over POW labor

Washington Post

World Agenda: Taro Aso's fortunes sink with Japan's economy

Times on Line

Short skirts survive the deep-freeze in Niigata


From the Nanjing Massacre to American Global Expansion: Reflections on American and Japanese Amnesia

Japan Focus

Japan Airlines facing annual loss


Tokyo bid says $4 billion already secured for 2016

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

According to government estimates, the Japanese economy is set to contract by 3.8% from the previous year. That could result in 2.7 million job losses.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Japan imported 190,000 baby chicks from France in 2007. That accounted for 37% of domestic consumption.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Japanese police took action (questioned, arrested, or sent papers to prosecutors) 307 times against the country's infamous "bosozoku" motorcycle gangs in 2008. That is 19 times more than in 2007.

There were 651 known gangs in Japan in 2008, with a total membership of 11,516. Membership declined 8.5% from the previous year.

Source: Kyodo News

Passport applications filed with false documentation almost doubled in 2007 from the previous year.

111 passport applications were completed with a fake ID.

Source: Kyodo News

A record 289,836 couples divorced in Japan in 2002. Okinawa, Osaka & Hokkaido had the most divorces, with Niigata, Shimane & Toyama the least.

Source: Kansai Time Out

© JapanVisitor

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