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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Tokyo Naked裸な東京2009年

Naked Tokyo is back!


Cross cultural eroticism, supercharged sexuality, gender issues, ironic orientalism, political incorrectness, bad taste, and a sense of humour are all highly encouraged!

Theme: Contemporary portraits themed "Naked + Tokyo" Curator: Embutsu Kanji

Exhibit Date/Location: One night only, Friday, June 26, 2009, at Super Deluxe, Tokyo (super-deluxe.com)

Note: These photos are from the 2008 exhibit.

Top Right: © Max Hodges. Woman with umbrella: © Ellen Nepilly.

© Japan Visitor.com

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Nail Art In Japan


We looked at Japanese nail art a short while ago and were so impressed we fingered our photographer to go out and find us a few more examples of elaborately manicured hands.

Nail Art In Japan

Japanese nail art has taken off on the east and west coasts of North America with a number of salons in New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles offering Japanese style manicures and nail chips.

Nail Art In Japan

And oh yes, you can still hold chopsticks, drink and giggle into your cell phone wearing these.

Nail Art In Japan

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Japanese Cupid

Rough Guide To Japan

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Japan This Week: 29 March 2009


Japan News.Japan’s Small Exporters Are Hit Hardest

NY Times

A little deaf in one ear - meet the Japanese man who survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki


Japan readies defenses for North Korea rocket launch

Washington Post

Japan's harsh new reality

Times on Line

Publisher fined for 'fixed' sumo series


Japan's Sumo Scandals

Global Post

Aso rating up, at Ozawa's expense

Japan Times

Highland Park haul found in Japan


Ichiro blast lifts Japan in WBC thriller

Yahoo Sports

Cars developed for older drivers.

Global Post

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

33% of married women in Japan report having been abused by their husbands, according to a Cabinet survey. That figure is nearly identical to the number of a similar survey in 2005.

Of the 33%, some 13.3% said they "feared for their lives."

Source: Kyodo News

81.7% of Japanese 18 - 24 years are proud of their nationality, according to a government survey. That is a 9.1% increase from six years earlier.

Japan came in third most proud, with Americans the most proud of their nation.

USA: 91.2%
UK: 84.1%
South Korea: 78%
France: 77.1%

Source: Kyodo News

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Japan Centre London

Japan Centre, Londonジャパンセンター、ロンドン

Previously located in Piccadilly, central London, the Japan Centre on Shaftesbury Avenue, serves the area's enormous Japanese community and those with an interest in Japan.

With nearly 100,000 Japanese nationals in the Greater London area, there is strong demand for the many products at the Japan Centre.

The shop has a large stock of books, magazines, origami, and a supermarket like supply of food and drink.

Prices are not cheap, but when you need instant ramen or a Japanese magazine, well, this is the place to go.

Home delivery is also possible.

Japan Centre
19 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 7ED
Tel: 020 3405 1246


Japan Centre is situated at 19 Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End. A few minutes walk from the Piccadilly Circus underground station.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Asahi Flame Asakusa - Golden Turd


One of Tokyo's most recognizable buildings is the Asahi Beer Hall on the east bank of the Sumida River opposite Asakusa. Designed by French architect Philippe Starck, the golden flame is supposedly beer foam rising from the beer mug-shaped building below.

Asahi Flame Asakusa - Gold Turd

Affectionately nicknamed the "Golden Turd" (kin no unchi) the hollow stainless steel structure weighs over 300 tons and was completed in 1989 at the height of Japan's pretentious "Bubble Period".

Asahi Flame Asakusa - Gold Turd

Asahi Breweries HQ is situated nearby. Paricularly good views of the building are to be had from the Tokyo water bus on the Sumida River.

© Japan Visitor.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cat Expressions in Japanese


There are quite a few expressions in Japanese using "cat." Like feelings about the animal itself, the expressions are a mixed bag.

猫撫で声(ねこなでごえ、neko nade goe)= a smooth, soothing voice, like the purring of a cat. It brings to mind a bar hostess plying a salaryman with drinks as she coos in his ear.

猫舌(ねこじた、neko jita)= cat's tongue, and is literal. It means a rough, scratchy tongue. Update: an alert reader has pointed out that this means someone who does not like to eat or drink hot things.

猫の手も借りたいほど(ねこのてもかりたいほど、neko no te mo karitai hodo)= Really busy ("...want to borrow even a cat's paw").

猫に小判(ねこにこばん、neko ni koban)= pearls before swine.

借りてきた猫(かりたてきたねこ、karitate kita neko)= as meek as a lamb, quiet as a mouse.

猫まんま(ねこまんま、neko manma)= to add soup to rice, i.e., eating like a cat (which is not polite).

猫だまし(ねこだまし、neko damashi)= a sumo technique, in which a wrestler at the very beginning of about thrusts both hands at the face of the opposing wrestler. A sneak attack.

猫屋敷(ねこやしき、neko yashiki)= when a group of stray cats takes over an abandoned house, marking it with urine and in general causing trouble for the (human) neighbors.

At least, though, cats haven't been stuck with 負け犬(まけいぬ、the losing dog)= loser.

© Japan Visitor.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tokyo Central Post Office Building

The Tokyo Central Post Office Building near Tokyo Station in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo has been granted a reprieve from demolition.

The ugly 1930s building, designed by Tetsuro Yoshida, was due to be redeveloped and a new 38-story tower rise in its place, saving only about 20% of the original facade.

Tokyo Central Post Office, Tokyo.

Opposition to the plan from the Internal Affairs & Communication Ministry and its head Hatoyama Kunio has lead to a rethink from Japan Post Holdings Co. The Japanese Post Office was split up under the government of ex-PM Koizumi Junichiro and the new entities thus created now own the buildings they operate in.

The Osaka Central Post Office redevelopment is also now under review. The Kita ward building in central Osaka was designed by the same architect.

The Internal Affairs & Communication Ministry and Japan Post Holdings Co have already clashed over the proposed sale, subsequently canceled, of 79 Kampo no Yado hotels that Japan Post proposed to sell to Orix Corp. The Ministry intervened, claiming the value of the properties was undervalued.

The break up of Japan Post under Koizumi was a devisive issue for the ruling LDP at the time and remains so today.

© Japan Visitor.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Itagaki Taisuke


Itagaki Taisuke (1837-1919), a nationalist politician of the Meiji Period, was a leader of the Popular Rights Movement and became the head of Japan's first political party - the Jiyuto (Liberal Party).

Itagaki Taisuke - statue in the grounds of Kochi Castle

Born to a samurai family in present-day Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku, Itagaki was active in the overthrow of the Tokugawa regime and became a minister in the new Meiji government.

Itagaki resigned his official post in 1873 over what he thought was the excessive power of the Satsuma-Choshu factions in the new government and their failure to invade nearby Korea. Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima) and Choshu (Yamaguchi) were the two areas that had been dominant in the overthrow of the shogunate.

Itagaki Taisuke.

Returning to his native Kochi, Itagaki set up the Victorian-style, self-help organization - the Risshisha - and made calls for a more representative form of government and popular rights. This initially local movement coalesced into the national Freedom and People's Rights Movement (自由民権運動), an unstable alliance of samurai and peasants, agitating for an elected assembly.

In 1881 Itagaki was instrumental in setting up Japan's first political party - the Jiyuto (Liberal Party) and later became Home Minister in 1898. Then, as now, Japanese politics was rife with factional rivalries and Itagaki retired from public life in 1900.

Itagaki was the victim of an assassination attempt by a right-wing thug armed with a knife in Gifu in 1882. Stained with blood, he called out his most famous phrase: "Itagaki may die, but liberty never."

© Japan Visitor.com

Itagaki Taisuke.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Japanese Nail Art


Nail art has become a big fashion item for Japanese women (and some men) over the last few years.

Japanese Nail Art

Elaborately painted and sculptured nails complete with flowery rhinestones and lacy stick-ons (known as nail chips) are popular with the teenagers in Shibuya, at graduation ceremonies and weddings.

Japanese Nail Art, Japan

The trend is similar to the colorful decoration of cell phones known as decoden and the impulse to decorate movement in traditional Japanese art - kazari.

Numerous nail art salons can be found in Tokyo and other big Japanese cities.

© Japan Visitor.com

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Japan This Week: 22 March 2009


Japan News.Japan’s Political Dynasties Come Under Fire but Prove Resilient

NY Times

Still Hip After Blossoms Fade in Tokyo

NY Times

Americans told to avoid Tokyo bar district after spate of robberies


Japan mulling more sanctions against North Korea

Washington Post

Toshiba joins management cleansing moves

Times on Line

91% dissatisfied with political state


Net strangers to hang for slaying

Japan Times

Japan ships join piracy patrols


Japan powers past Cuba to WBC semi-finals

Yahoo Sports

Abduction, espionage, alleged murder and intrigue on the Korean peninsula

Global Post

Maehara Seiji has a problem


Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Executions in January 2009

USA: 7
China: 4
Iran: 36
Japan: 4
Saudi Arabia: 8
Singapore: 1

Source: Capital Punishment UK

The number of unemployed persons in January 2009 was 2.77 million, an increase of 210 thousand or 8.2% from the previous year.

The unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, was 4.1%.

Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Because of warming temperatures, the annual cherry blossom season has moved up. This year, the first blossoms were recorded on the following dates:

Kyoto: March 19
Hiroshima: March 22
Wakayama: March 21
Osaka: March 25 (estimated)
Kobe: March 24 (estimated)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Japanese Roof Gargoyles onigawara


Japanese roof gargoyles or onigawara are a common sight on temples and old houses.

oni means demon and kawara is tile. The gargoyles attached to Japanese roofs are to ward off evil spirits and the constant threat of fire for the wooden buildings below.

Japanese Roof Gargoyles onigawara

The practice of adding decorative roof tiles to buildings came from China and began in the Nara Period (710-794) in Japan.

Below is a photograph of some of the earliest types of decorative roof tiles from the Nara Period on display at the Excavation Site Exhibition Hall at Nara Palace Site in Nara.

Nara Period Roof Tiles, Excavation Site Exhibition Hall, Nara.

Japanese castle roofs commonly display the mythical shachi - a dolphin or killer whale type creature that protects from fire. The shachi are usually in male and female pairs.

If you have a picture of a Japanese gargoyle and wish to display it on JapanVisitor please contact us.

Monkey roof statues in Nara.

© Japan Visitor.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tattoo Bans in Japanese Onsen & Public Baths


Many Japanese hot spring onsen resorts and public bath houses routinely ban people with full body tattoos (irezumi 入墨) as these are associated with Japan's mob - the yakuza.

The sign below at Hirugami onsen in Nagano prefecture clearly states that those people with full body tattoos will not be allowed in.

No tattoos!

If you have a small western style tattoo or designer tattoo it is not really a problem, as people will understand you are not a feared mobster.

© Japan Visitor.com

Thursday, March 19, 2009

LH Kenji and LH Naoko break the ice

Last week, LH Kenji and LH Naoko, the Japanese voices of Microsoft's Japanese version of Windows XP, met for the first time. This week listen as LH Kenji and LH Naoko break the ice.

Kenji: 直子さん、こんにちは。 Naoko-san, konnichi wa.
Hello, Naoko.

Naoko: こんにちは。 Konnichi wa.

Kenji: この前、ありがとうございました。 Kono mae, arigato gozaimashita.
Thanks for last time.

Naoko: いえいえ、とんでもないです。 Ie, ie. Ton demo nai desu.
Don’t mention it.

Kenji: 週末は大体いそがしいですか。 Shuumatsu wa daitai isogashii desu ka.
Are you generally busy on weekends?

Naoko: いいえ、大体全然暇ですよ。 Iie, daitai zenzen hima desu yo.
No, generally I’m completely free.

Kenji: この週末も暇というわけですね。 Kono shuumatsu mo hima to iu wake desu ne.
Is that right? Meaning you’re free this weekend, too, right?

Naoko: はい。 Hai.

Kenji: では、暇つぶしに映画を一緒に行ってもらえませんか。 Dewa, hima tsubushi ni eiga o issho ni itte moraemasen ka.
Well, would you like to fill in time with me and see a movie?

Naoko: 何の映画ですか。 Nan no eiga desu ka.
What movie?

Kenji: それは二人で決めたら、いいかなと思って。 Sore wa futari de kimetara ii na to omotte.
I thought it would be nice if we could choose one together.

Naoko:  あたし、メジャーな映画はあまり好きじゃないですね。ちょっと変わった感じがいいです。 Atashi, mejaa na eiga ha amari suki ja nai desu ne. Chotto kawatta kanji ga iidesu.
I’m not so fond of mainstream movies. I like something a little off the wall.

Kenji: 変わった感じですか。もしかしたら変わった映画をみた後、変わった料理を食べに行って、そして変わったことをしたくなるということかな。 Kawatta kanji desu ka. Moshika shitara, kawatta eiga o mita ato, kawatta ryori wo tabe ni itte, soshite kawatta koto o shitaku naru to yu koto ka na?
Off the wall, huh? Maybe once you’ve seen an off the wall movie, and then gone for some off the wall kind of cuisine, you’ll want to do something off the wall, no?

Naoko: なあにゆってるの、健次さん。早く映画を選びましょう。 Nani yutte iru no, Kenji-san? Hayaku eiga wo erabimasho.
Kenji, what are you saying? Let’s get down to choosing a movie.

Kenji: はい、ちょう変わったものを! Hai, cho kawatta mono o!
Yes, a really off the wall one!

Naoko: ひひひ
Hee hee hee.

What will they go and see? What will they do afterwards? Stay tuned!

Ton demo nai desu: Don't be ridiculous/Don't talk nonsense/Not at all/Don't mention it.
daitai: mostly
hima: free (i.e., "with time on your hands"-free, not "free lunch"-free)
shuumatsu: weekend
eiga: movie
kawatta: literally "changed," but as an adjective meaning "odd," "different," "off the wall," "strange," "unusual."
mejaa: major, mainstream
ryori: cuisine, cooking
cho: (slang) very, extremely, greatly.

See also:
Naoko and Kenji Watch a Movie

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

HRP-4C Japanese Female Robot


A 158cm walking, talking female humanoid robot, HRP-4C, was unveiled to the press on Monday. Developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science in Tsukuba, HRP-4C has 42 motors made by Honda, weights 42kg and can respond to language with various hand and facial gestures. She's also pretty cute!

The HRP-4C robot will make a guest appearance at Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo. The robot cost 200 million yen (2 million USD) to develop and later models may go on sale to the public.

Here's a paraphrase of what the professor says at the end of the video:
"What we have attempted to create is a robot with human-like proportions and,
in addition, the ability to walk at a normal speed.

To be honest, though, the robot is still a ways off in terms of walking speed."

Toba Bay Mie Prefecture


There are some excellent views of the small islands in Toba Bay from Hiyoriyama, a short walk either past the Toba Minato Machi Bunka Kaikan or through Kata Shrine right near Toba station and the oyster bars in the Ekimae Shotengai.

Toba Bay

The trail passes Medaka School a science and learning center for school children with a foot spa if your feet have begun to ache from the walk.

Toba Bay, Mie.

You will also pass Jouanji Temple, the family temple of the old feudal lords of the area - the Kuki clan and Kotohiragu Toba Bunsha - a shrine connected with Kotohiragu Shrine (Kompira san) on Shikoku. There are more great views of the ocean from here.

Toba Bay, Mie Prefecture.

The whole walk talks about 90mins to 2 hours.

There are Kinstetsu trains to Toba from Osaka and Nagoya (1 hour, 35 mins) and there are overnight highway buses from Ikebukuro via Kuwana and Tsu to Toba.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts


The Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which opened in 1999, is the sister museum of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA).

Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The museum shows exhibitions from the collection of over 500,000 works of art in Boston and other world class exhibits. Located on the south side of Kanayama Station, the museum is located in a 31-story tower also containing the ANA Grand Court Hotel, Nagoya, and the Nagoya Urban Center.

Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts

The Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts occupies three floors with gallery spaces, a shop and resource library.

Upcoming exhibitions including Gauguin and 100 years of Noritake Design. Recent past exhibitions include The World of Claude Monet and an exhibition of artifacts commemorating the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the lives of Commodore Perry and Townsend Harris in Japan in the mid-nineteenth century.

Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts
1-1-1 Kanayama-cho, Naka-ku, Nagoya
Tel: 052 684 0101
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am - 7pm;

Sat & Sun & public holidays 10am - 5pm;
Closed Monday

© JapanVisitor.com

Basho Haiku

松尾 芭蕉

"They make me recall
A lady's powder puff -
These saffron blossoms"


English translation by Donald Keene from the Narrow Road To Oku

Basho Haiku in Iga Ueno, Basho's birthplace

© Japan Visitor

Rough Guide To Japan

Monday, March 16, 2009

JapanVisitor Photo Contest Winner


Congratulations to teenager Caitlin McColl, whose image of Shibuya won first prize in our recent Japan Photo Contest.

Our judge, Jake Davies, had this to say on the winning photograph: "I like how what would normally be a very busy scene is rendered almost empty by the long exposure."

The Ghosts of Shibuya by Caitlin McColl

The Ghosts of Shibuya by Caitlin McColl

The runner up was student Michael Allen's building near the Landmark Tower in Yokohama: "The unusual angle makes a very dynamic composition."

Building near the Landmark Tower by Michael Allen

Building near the Landmark Tower by Michael Allen

Caitlin also won the overall prize beating the best images in the QatarVisitor.com and Beijing-Visitor.com contests, which were held concurrently.

Japan Visitor holds regular competitions and to enter them please sign up for our Japan newsletter, where you will receive all the latest news on free gifts, special offers and new competitions.

© Japan Visitor.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Japan This Week - 15 March 2009


Japan News.Japan reconsidered

NY Times

Polka dots and miniskirts: how Japan wants world to see it

The Independent

Japan economy shrank 12.1 pct in Q4


Japanese baseball fans hope to have lifted 'curse of Colonel Sanders'


Human-like robot smiles, scolds in Japan classroom

Washington Post

Hay fever brings grief to Japanese snow monkeys

Times on Line

Prosecutors question Tohoku contractors over Ozawa donations


Ex-agent believes Taguchi is alive

Japan Times

Japan murder detective replaced


Movie Review: "Tokyo Sonata"

New York Times

South Korea edges Japan 1-0 to win group at WBC

Yahoo Sports

Brazilian workers in Japan return home: Amid global economic turmoil, Brazilians find jobs hard to come by in Japan

Global Post

Even as the supposedly irresistible tide of globalization washes against Japan's shores, insular and parochial attitudes are strengthening

Global Post

Silence of the Dems


Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

In 2008, police actions against youth motorcycle gangs (bozozoku) reached a record 307 cases. The National Police Agency estimates the total number of bozozoku gangs in Japan as 651 with a membership of 11,516.

Source: Kyodo News

According to Justice Ministry statistics, local authorities have inadvertently issued approximately 20,000 registration cards to foreigners staying illegally in Japan. A proposed new law would toughen penalties for illegals in Japan with prison sentences of between 1-10 years, while extending the maximum period of stay from 3 to 5 years for foreign residents.

Source: Kyodo News

2007 saw 6,321 recorded cases of internet-related crime in Japan - including threatening behavior, libel, illegal access, fraud and offenses against a law restricting internet-based dating services.

Source: Kyodo News

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chubu International Airport Hotels


Most international flights from Chubu International Airport in Japan depart at around 10am. So with check-in two hours before at 8am, many travelers from central Japan in Nagano, Gifu, Mie and Shizuoka prefectures may opt to spend the night before their departure at one of Chubu International Airport's hotels.

Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Hotel

Hotel options at Chubu International Airport include the Comfort Hotel and the Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Hotel, which has Orange & Green sides.

Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Hotel

The Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Orange Side Hotel is a short walk from the departure gates and has good views of the ocean. Tour groups can cause some noise but it is possible to ask for a change of room, if this occurs.

Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Hotel

Toyoko Inn Chubu Kokusaikuko Orange Side
4-2-5 Centrair, Tokoname-shi, Aichi
Phone: +81 569 38 2045


The quickest way to get to Centrair is on the μ sky Rapid Limited Express operated by Meitetsu Railways. There are also buses to Nagoya, Fukui, Shizuoka, Shimizu, Gifu, Mie, Toyota and Toyohashi.

There are regular boats to Tsu, Matsuzaka and sightseeing cruises to Nagoya and Yokkaichi ports.

Book a Hotel in Nagoya with Booking.com

Friday, March 13, 2009

Toyama Folkcraft Village


Toyama Folkcraft Village set in the forested hills of Mount Kureha above Toyama City is certainly worth a peek if you are in the area or visiting Toyama on a day trip from Takayama.

Toyama Folkcraft Village

Easy to get to on the free tourist shuttle or city bus, the Toyama Folkcraft Village, contains several museums dedicated to Toyama Prefecture's arts and crafts: particularly glass and medicines for which the area is well-known. There are also museums of local history and art plus an elegant tea ceremony room and a reference library.

Toyama Folkcraft Village

The Folkcraft Museum is very near to Chokeiji Temple and its 500 statues of rakan - enlightened Buddhist adepts.

Chokeiji Temple, Toyama

The Toyama Folkcraft Village
1118-1 Anyobo, Toyama, 930-0881
Tel: 076 433 8270
Admission: adults 630 yen for all facilities; children 320 yen
Closed: Mondays

Toyama Folkcraft Village is accessible on the free Toyama Museum bus from outside the CiC Building across from Toyama JR Station (ask the tourist office to stamp your brochure) or take a Toyama Chitetsu bus for Shin-Sakuradani, Kurehayama-Rojin-Center from JR Toyama Station and alight at Anyobo bus stop.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

LH Kenji and LH Naoko: your computer's default voice

コンピュータの規定の声 ケンジ ナオコ

You’re familiar with the cracked avuncular tones of Microsoft Sam, or Microsoft Mike, and the weird dulcetness of Microsoft Mary or, if your OS is Vista, Microsoft Anna.

Ever wondered what the mechanical voice of the Japanese version of the Microsoft XP OS sounds like?

LH Naoko.

The standard Japanese version of XP has LH Kenji and LH Naoko (the LH standing for Lernout & Hauspie, a now-defunct Belgian speech and language technology company).

Listen here to, first, LH Kenji (sounding like he has a very bad cold) and then LH Naoko (sounding like she’s talking to a toddler), saying

“LH Kenji [Naoko] no koe o konpyuuta no kitei no koe ni sentaku shimashita.”

or, in the now familiar English:

You have selected LH Kenji [Naoko] as your computer’s default voice”

Now, let’s listen to Kenji and Naoko having a typical end-of-winter, start-of-spring conversation, about their health and the weather.

Kenji: Konnichi wa (Hello)

Naoko: Konnichi wa (Hello)

Kenji: Ogenki desuka? (Are you well?)

Naoko: Hai, okage sama de. (Yes, thanks for asking)

Kenji: Kaze o hiite imasenka. (You haven’t caught a cold?)

Naoko: Hai, hiite imasen yo. (No [lit. “Yes”], I haven’t)

Kenji: Sore wa ii desu ne. (That’s good)

Naoko: So desu ne. (Yes, isn’t it.) Kenji-san mo genkiso desu ne. (And you look well, too, Kenji)

Kenji: So desu ne. (Yes) Shikashi, shigoto de chotto tsukarete imasu yo. (But I’m a little tired from work)

Naoko: Sore wa, sore wa. (Oh, dear me.) Okarada ni ki o tsukete kudasai ne. (Look after yourself, won’t you)

Finally, LH Kenji and LH Naoko say See you again! (Mata ne!)

See also:
LH Kenji and LH Naoko Break the Ice
LH Kenji and LH Naoko Watch a Movie
Registering Kanji Readings in Japanese Windows OS

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Paule Saviano From Above Exhibition


Gallery ef is pleased to announce a photography exhibition by Paule Saviano "From Above" from March 13th to April 12th, 2009. On tomorrow, 12th (Thu.), we will have an opening reception. Paule Saviano will attend this reception.

Please join from all over the world !

Paule Saviano Photography Exhibition "From Above"
An American photographer Paule Saviano releases his newest series that portrays Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors and Tokyo Air Raids Survivors. It reflects how he faced the trace of historical tragedy and the present day of the people who experienced these events.

Sumiteru Taniguchi (Nagasaki)

Term : 2009. March 13th (Fri.) - April 12th (Sun.)
Opening Hours : 12:00-21:00; Closed on Tuesdays
Entrance : free

In collaboration with Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, The Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages

Opening Reception
Date : 2009. March 12th, 19:00 – 21:00

Please check webpage.

Paule Saviano Profile
New York native Paule Saviano has been snapping photographs since he was 12 years old. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in two majors; Visual Media and Political Science from the American University (1996) in Washington, DC.
Since than he's been published in magazines around the globe and has accepted every kind of photography assignment from fashion to landscape until settling into portrait photography. His photographs have appeared in magazines such as Faces (Switzerland), Belio (Spain), Mono (Japan), Resonance (USA), Talk (Australia), Index (USA), and numerous others.
He's criss-crossed the world photographing many personalities and bands such as Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, and AC/DC to name a few.
Paule has had solo exhibitions at galleries in Tokyo, New York, Shanghai, London, Helsinki, and Italy. He continues to produce images that blend realism and surreal fantasy.
His series on striptease burlesque artists in the rising underground burlesque scene has been exhibiting around the globe for 3 years. Paule continues to travel the globe to produce images.

Paule Saviano Website

Striptease Burlesque in 2007 at Gallery ef

Gallery ef
2-19-18 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku,
Tokyo 111-0034

tel * +81-(0)3-3841-0442
fax * +81-(0)3-3841-9079

Traffic Access 15 steps from Asakusa station, subway Asakusa line, exit A5 2 minutes walk from Asakusa station, subway Ginza line, Exit 2 10 minutes walk from Kuramae station, subway Oedo line, exit A5.

Portopia Hotel Kobe


At 112 metres in height, the Portopia Hotel dominates the skyline of Port Island, a man-made island in Kobe Bay.

Portopia Hotel Kobe.

Built in 1981 and designed by Nikken Sekkei, the rooms in the 30-storey Portopia Hotel either have expansive views over Osaka Bay, or over Kobe city with Rokko Mountain behind.

Portopia Hotel Kobe.

Among Portopia's facilities are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gym, tennis courts, and 13 restaurants. The hotel has extensive conference facilities and hosts many International conferences, including recently some meetings of the G8 Summit held in 2008 in Japan.

Convenient for Kansai International Airport as the high-speed ferry connecting Port Island with KIX is nearby.

The Portopia Hotel employs a full-time English teacher for staff training.

The Portopia Hotel is situated next to Shimin Hiroba Station of the Portliner. The hotel has free shuttles from Shin Kobe Station, Sannomiya Station, and other points in Kobe.

Portopia Hotel
10-1-6 Chome, Minatojima Nakamachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 650-0046
Tel: 078 302 1111

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gifu Plum Blossom Festival


This time of year in Japan sees the first mass "flower viewing" of the calendar. The blossomings of the nation's plum trees are an early harbinger of spring and people flock in their thousands to see the colorful plum (ume) flowers in gardens, temples and parks across the nation.

Gifu city's 57th annual (plum) ume festival took place at the weekend in Bairin Park, a short bus ride or 30 minute stroll from either JR Gifu Station or Meitetsu Gifu Station.

Festival eats

There were the usual festival food stalls in evidence in the park: okonomiyaki pancakes, takoyaki octopus balls, fried potatoes, fried corn, yakisoba (fried noodles) and squid on a stick. Besides the permanently parked steam locomotive in Bairin Park other attractions to lure visitors to attend and maybe splash their cash a bit were puppet shows, chindonya, musical performances, bonzai displays and rickshaw rides.

Puppet on a string

The stalls spread throughout the surrounding streets as housewives and tradespeople set out their local delicacies and crafts for sale.

Zuiryoji Temple near Bairin Park was particularly beautiful with its large pink plum blossoms in full bloom.

Zuiryoji Temple, Gifu

Gifu Plum Blossom Festival
Bairin Park
Tel: 058 240 6530

© Japan Visitor.com

Monday, March 09, 2009

Osaka - Dotonbori

Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan.大阪の道頓堀

Not far from Namba, in south Osaka, Dotonbori is the section of city that displays the most gaudy and pulsating and raw side of Japan's most demonstrative metropolis.

The neon alone is worth the trip. Better yet is the people watching.

Tourists - Japanese and now quite a few from Asia (tour groups from China, individual Koreans and Taiwanese) - wander the area semi-stunned by the passing show.

Bee-hived hairdos, mini mini-skirts, knee-high boots, and nail attachments on the women; wind-tunnel effect hairstyles, sheer black pants, pointy shoes, and darting eyes on the men.

The area of Dotonbori was developed in the early part of the 17th century by Doton Yasui, a local merchant, who expanded what was then called the Umezu River. A typical Osaka businessman, he was hoping to connect the two branches of the Yohori River with a canal - and thereby improve business and the flow of goods - but died before the work was finished.

The canal was completed in 1615, and the lord of Osaka Castle named it for Doton, who had died in battle.

Six years later the area was designated an "entertainment district," and by the 1660s there were six kabuki theaters, five bunraku theaters, and many restaurants and bars and brothels.

Most of those theaters are long gone, and the area was bombed to the ground during World War II.

Dotonbori, Osaka, Japan.Today it is a thriving nightlife area, with plenty to see, do, and buy.

The central area of Dotonbori is the Ebisubashi bridge over the canal, from which you can see the famous Glico neon sign (above right).

The bridge is jokingly referred to as "Hikkake Bashi" ("pick up bridge") because of the action at night and the many pimps who congregate on the bridge after dark. (These men, pictured above, earn money not by prostituting women, but rather by trying to entice women to host bars. They get a cut of a client's tab.)
Dotonbori, Osaka
Among restaurants, Kani Doraku is perhaps the best known. That is because of the delicious crab and the massive moving "crab" above the main entrance.

You can walk north from Ebisubashi up the arcade. Store after store after store will no doubt entice you.


From Namba Station, it is a 5 - 10- minute walk north up Midosuji. JR, Nankai Railways, Kintetsu Railways, and the Osaka subway lines all stop here.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Japan This Week - 8 March 2009


Japan News.Japan’s Crisis of the Mind

NY Times

Japan PM's reading blunders spark study spree


A Japanese lesson for Afghanistan


Japan cell phone goes 3D with special display

Washington Post

Japan prepares for first use of 'Son of Star Wars' missile defence

Times on Line

Cash handouts OK'd in 2nd vote


Hillary in Japan – The Enforcer

Japan Focus

Japan opposition hit by scandal


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

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

In 2007, there were 88 schools for Brazilians resident in Japan. These schools are found in 12 of the country's 47 prefectures.

Including 3 schools for Peruvian workers, a total of 10,000 students attend these schools.

Source: Kyodo News

The Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund made a record 5.74 trillion yen loss on its investments in the last quarter of 2008 as the yen rose in value and the stock markets crashed.

Source: GPIF

The initial estimation for the number of suicides in Japan in 2008 is 32,000 - the 11th straight year the total has topped 30,000. Yamanashi Prefecture was the suicide capital of Japan with 40.8 deaths per 100,000 people followed by Aomori with a suicide rate of 36.5. The National Police Agency released figures showing 2,645 people (1,994 men; 751 women) killed themselves in January 2009 up from 2,305 for January 2008.

Source: Kyodo News

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Betty Boop in Japan


Betty Boop, an American creation from the early 1930s has always been a presence in Japan, with her beguiling blend of the child-like and the adult-sexy. She taps into Japan's obsession with the comic (especially the home-grown manga comic) and with cuteness, or kawaii.

Betty Boop

Kawaii, roughly translated as “cute” is a cultural trend that began as an underground craze among Japanese schoolgirls in the 1970s for a particular writing style characterized by large, rounded letters, and interspersed with emoticon-style drawings. It was quickly taken aboard commercially, worked into manga art, and is now found even in officialdom, which freely uses kindergarten-level graphics in communications designed to persuade adults.

Emphasizing helplessness and vulnerability, the kawaii obsession fuels the “lolicon,” i.e. “Lolita complex," obsession with erotic depictions of young girls and, by extension, guarantees the popularity of that cutest and sexiest of characters, Betty Boop.

This Betty Boop figurine was snapped on the streets of Tokyo's Shibuya ward, a retro symbol of cute pointing shoppers to the appropriately named “Once Upon a Time” clothing store. The chain around her middle clearly serves the practical purpose of saving little Betty from abduction, but it would be a naïve passerby who didn't see more in it that that.

Friday, March 06, 2009

JapanVisitor On Twitpic


On our travels around the depths of Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Shimane and beyond, we've been posting a few images to Twitpic.

The better quality of image is definitely from an iPhone rather than a standard camera in a Japanese cell phone.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Traveling in Japan - Useful Japanese


Listen to means of transport in Japanese from Joji

So far in our look at Japanese vocabulary categories we have covered animals, parts of the body, the numbers in Japanese, colors and days of the week, another useful vocabulary section is the world of travel.

Whether you live in Japan or are here as a tourist, travel and getting around will be a big part of your day. Here are some useful words.

train (densha 電車), station (eki 駅), bus (basu バス), taxi, (takushi タクシー), bicycle (jitensha 自転車), motorbike (motabaiku; otobai オートバイ), aeroplane (hikoki 飛行機), airport (kuko 空港), ticket (kippu 切符), travel pass (teiki 定期), ferry (feri フェリー), port (minato 港), platform (purattohomu; homu ホーム), passport (pasupoto パスポート), ticket barrier/wicket (kaisatsuguchi 改札口), limited express train (tokkyu 特急), express train (kyukou 急行), rapid (kaisoku 快速), semi-express (jyunkyuu 準急), local train (futsuu 普通), jiyuseki (non-reserved seat 自由席), shiteiseki (reserved seat 指定席), subway/underground (chikatetsu 地下鉄), bullet train (shinkansen 新幹線), monorail (monoreru モノレール), cable car (ropu-ue/keburuka ロープウエー/ケーブルカー), street car/tram (romendensha ろめん電車), car (kuruma/jidosha 車/自動車).

Some names of means of transport are written in katakana if the name is taken from a foreign language such as cable car (keburuka ケーブルカー), monorail (monoreru モノレール) and, of course, bus (bazu バズ) and taxi, (takushi タクシー)

Most visitors and residents will make use of Japan's extensive rail and urban subway systems for getting to and from work or traveling the country.

The inter-city shinkansen bullet trains and many express trains offer both reserved and non-reserved seats: shiteiseki (reserved seat 指定席) and jiyuseki (non-reserved seat 自由席). The Shinkansen first class carriages are known as "green car" (グリーンカー). Tickets and reservations can be booked at the station booking office, from ticket machines, from travel agents and online.

The shinkansen and most express trains have both smoking (kitsu-en 喫煙) and no-smoking (kin-en 禁煙) carriages, though smoking on platforms is being limited to small smoking areas. We'll go into more detail on the language needed to use Japanese trains in a future post. In the meantime, happy traveling!

Last week's Japanese lesson - slang

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Nagoya Window Washer

window washer, nagoya名古屋の窓掃除

We were on a short business trip to Nagoya last weekend, and Saturday dawned cool and clear.

A perfect morning for a stroll on the city's long, wide boulevards.

The population density in Nagoya is unlike any other Japanese city, except perhaps Sapporo.

It made for great photo taking as you did not have to worry about pedestrians, cyclists, or cars mowing you down - which is often the case in the rest of Japan.

In the Sakae section of the city, a short ride on the subway from Nagoya Station, we heard the clanking of a window washer overhead.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sumo Wrestlers Morning Practice

An early morning tour of a sumo stable to see young sumo wrestlers practicing is one of the most popular sumo wrestlers practice tours in Tokyo offered by Voyagin.

The tour begins at Hamacho Station on the Toei-Shinjuku Line and lasts from 8:15am-10:45am. The tour includes watching the practice and enjoying chankonabe with the wrestlers. This tour is a unique opportunity learn about the daily life of sumo wrestlers with an English-speaking Japanese tour guide.

Book a tour of early morning sumo wrestlers practice in Tokyo

Books on Sumo

Gaijin Yokozuna: A Biography of Chad Rowan

The Perfect Guide to Sumo by Ito Katsuharu (the 34th Kimura Shonosuke); Translated by David Shapiro


Tokyo Japanese Sumo

Monday, March 02, 2009

Izumo To Matsue By Train


Izumo and Matsue in Shimane Prefecture in south west Japan are connected by two railway lines.

Dentetsu train, Shimane

The JR San-in Line runs south of Lake Shinji and the Ichibata Railway Kitamatsue Line runs to the north of Japan's 7th largest lake. The JR San-in Line is the quicker of the two routes between the cities and is handy for Tamatsukuri Hot Springs and the small town of Shinji near Izumo Airport.

Dentetsu Izumo Station, Shimane

The Ichibata Railway Kitamatsue Line is good for Matsue Vogel Park, Matsue Water Village Museum & Garden and the terminus at Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station is slightly nearer to Matsue Castle, the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and Lafcadio Hearn's Old Residence.

Akaimachi Station, Shimane

The JR San-in Line actually runs between Kyoto and Shimonoseki via Fukuchiyama, Tottori, Yonago, Matsue, Izumo, Yunotsu, Hamada, Masuda and Hagi.

Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station, Shimane

The Ichibata Electric Railway has two lines. The 40km line between Izumo and Matsue and an 8km spur from Kawato Station (on the Kitamatsue Line) to Izumo Taisha-mae Station, near Izumo Taisha. The Ichibata Railway Izumo Station is to your right as you exit the main JR Izumo Station.

JR Train, Shimane

© JapanVisitor.com

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