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Friday, December 31, 2010

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japanユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン

Universal Studios Japan is in Japan's second city, Osaka.

The park is very similar to Universal Orlando Resort, and it contains many of the same rides.

The main difference is that the majority of visitors are Japanese or tourists from other Asian countries, mainly Taiwan, China, and South Korea.

We spent the day there at the very end of 2010, and it was packed with families with children and young couples.

Waits for rides averaged from 60 minutes up to 120 minutes for the Spiderman ride. The biggest disappointment was that, because of high winds, the roller coaster was not running for much of the day.


Address : 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka City; Telephone : 06 6465 3000
Universal Studios Map

A six-minute ride from Osaka Station. Get off at the JR Universal Studio Japan.

Tickets: One-day passes cost 6,100 for adults, 4,100 for elementary school children

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Japan Airlines JAL

Japan Airlines or more commonly JAL began life in 1951 becoming Japan's national carrier two years later. JAL was fully privatized in 1987.

Japan Airlines JAL.

After years of impressive growth especially on flights to the US, JAL has recently been in financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy protection in January this year amid rumours of possible mergers with other airlines.

JAL absorbed Japan Air System (JAS) in 2002 to become the sixth largest airline in the world in terms of passengers carried.

JAL serves over 160 worldwide destinations and over 50 domestic destinations from its main hubs at Narita, Haneda, Itami (Osaka), KIX (Kansai International Airport) and Chubu International (Centrair) airports.

Japan Airlines JAL plane.

JAL is a member of the Oneworld alliance and has multiple codeshare flights with other international airlines including British Airways, Finnair, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Tel: 0570 025 071 (domestic reservations)
Tel: 0570 025 031 (international reservations)

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oita Castle Park


Oita Castle Park is the site of the former Oita Castle or Funai Castle. The original castle was burnt down by a fire in the mid-18th century and today only the stone walls and moat are original. Some of the turrets (yagura) have been rebuilt after World War II along with the covered bridge over the moat.

Oita Castle Park

Oita Castle Park contains the Oita Bunka Kaikan (097 532 1295) with a restaurant inside the culture center.

Surrounding Oita Castle Park are a number of recommended cafes and restaurants including Hosun Cafe, Hana and Friends Cafe.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Most Popular Blog Posts For December 2010

The most popular blog posts for December were a mix of Japanese fashion, namely Japanese nail art, Japanese language, manga and sex: of both the homo- and heterosexual kind. The top five posts are:

Japanese Nail Art
Gay Japanese manga
24 Kaikan Sauna: Gay Shinjuku
so desu ne
Book Review: Pink Box

Nail Art In Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Pink Box
nail art
Japanese manga

Monday, December 27, 2010

Images Of Huis Ten Bosch


Huis Ten Bosch near Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu is a must-see if you are in the area. Huis Ten Bosch (pronounced "House Ten Boss" in Japanese) is an idealized reconstruction of a Dutch town on a grand scale, complete with bicycles, cheese, windmills, canals and Heineken beer.

Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Choose either the standard entrance ticket or the more expensive Toku-Toku ticket, which allows entrance to the various rides, museums and elevator to the top of the cathedral (above), which has amazing views out over the coastline.

Images Of Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Visitors can get around Huis Ten Bosch on foot, by rental bicycle (including tandems), cart, canal boat or even Segway!

Images Of Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Other attractions include the beautiful seasonal gardens full of Cosmos when we visited in the fall, a replica of a Dutch Royal Palace, parades and fireworks displays.

If you wish to experience all that Huis Ten Bosch has to offer it is recommended you spend the night: ANA Hotel Huis Ten Bosch, Hotel Nikko Huis Ten Bosch, Hotel Amsterdam, Forest Villa, or Europe Hotel offer various low-cost deals in season.

Images Of Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki Prefecture.


JR trains to Fukuoka (1 hour 40 minutes on the JR Limited Express "Huis Ten Bosch") for Shinkansen connections to Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
Express "Sea Side Liner" on the JR Nagasaki/Omura Lines 1 hour 30 minutes from Nagasaki Station to Huis Ten Bosch (Return tickets 2,500 yen).

There are buses to Nagasaki (65 minutes), Nagasaki Airport, Kawatana, Kumamoto, Sasebo and night services to Osaka and Nagoya.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Japan News This Week 26 December 2010


Japan News.North Withholds Fire After South Korean Drills

New York Times

Japan falls for novel on management guru Drucker

Washington Post

Japan agrees record 92.4 trillion yen draft budget


What would Jesus and Buddha do … on holiday?


Temple turns to 'anime' to lure the young

Japan Times

Manga plus que ça !




24 Hours After Hiroshima: National Geographic Channel Takes Up the Bomb

Japan Focus

Japan to play Montenegro, NZealand in friendlies

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


In the first six months of 2010, there were 124 assaults on railroad employees reported.

These results came from a survey of 16 major private railways across Japan.

The most violent age group was those in their 60s, who accounted for 23% of all attacks.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tabira Church Hirado


Across the bridge from Hirado Island in Nagasaki is the large Tabira Church, which is also known as Setoyama Church.

Tabira Church Hirado Kyushu

Two years in construction, the red brick Tabira Church was designed by Tetsukawa Yosuke and completed in 1917.

The church is known for its wonderful views of the Hirado Strait and its fine stained-glass windows.

Masses are held on Saturdays at 7pm and on Sundays at 6am (except 1st Sunday of the month) and 9am.

Other things to see on Hirado are the William Adam's Memorial, the English Factory the Matsuura Historical Museum.

Tabira Church Hirado graveyard

Tabira Church
Koteda-men 19

© JapanVisitor.com

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Japan's Most Powerful Man


Here is a little Japan quiz.

Who is the man pictured below?

Is it
a) Oda Nobunaga
b) Tokugawa Ieyasu
c) Toyotomi Hideyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu

If you chose the answer b) Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) then you are correct. Ieyasu is arguably Japan's most powerful and influential historical figure. A contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare in England, Ieyasu established the Tokugawa shogunate which was to rule Japan until 1868.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan History
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Japanese History

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best of Tokyo

To a new visitor, Tokyo can be so fast and energetic that it may just pass you by. So, to help make sure you make the most of your trip, here's a list of just a few of Tokyo’s best bits:

(Going anywhere without travel insurance can be very risky so make sure you insure your holiday to Japan first.)

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Once the location of Edo Castle, stronghold of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Imperial Palace is considered by many to be the heart and soul of Tokyo. The Palace became the official seat of the Japanese Imperial Family in 1868, with construction of a new palace complex finishing in 1988. Although the palace buildings and inner gardens aren’t generally open to the public, guided tours are held on 2nd January (New Year’s Greeting) and 23rd December (the Emperor's Birthday).

The Palace's East Gardens are open to the public throughout the year, with the exception of Mondays and Fridays. As well as providing a fascinating insight into Japan's imperial history, the Palace grounds are also home to some spectacular architecture and beautiful scenery.


Mount Fuji

Dominating the Tokyo skyline is Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji. Standing at over 12,000 feet tall, Mount Fuji, known affectionately by the locals as Fuji-san, is an active stratovolcano that last erupted just over three hundred years ago. No visit to Tokyo is complete without a visit to one of Japan’s most iconic features.

Whether you're a beginner or an expert, there are opportunities to climb Mount Fuji within the official climbing season from 1st July to the end of August. The Kawaguchiko Trail is one of Mount Fuji's easiest and is even ideal for children and older travellers.

Mount Fuji


If there's one thing Japan is known around the world for, it's technology. Akihabara, sometimes also known as Akihabara Electric Town, is a perfect example of Japan's love-affair with all things technology. The district, situated right in the heart of Tokyo, is home to a large number of electronics shops, selling everything from the latest TVs and mobile phones to second-hand goods.

Recently, Akihabara has also become a centre for the burgeoning Japanese manga and animation culture. The area now features a number of places inspired by the manga craze, including cosplay (costume play) cafes, where the waitresses dress up like popular anime characters.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Garden Palace Hotel Fukuoka


The Garden Palace Hotel in Fukuoka is part of a chain of Garden Palace Hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kanazawa, Osaka and Sapporo.

Garden Palace Hotel Fukuoka, Kyushu

The clean and functional rooms come with free internet connection and there are both smoking and smoke-free rooms to choose from. The excellent buffet breakfasts are a feature of all Garden Palace Hotels.

The Garden Palace Hotel in Fukuoka is a short walk from Tenjin Station, which is a short ride on the Kuko Line subway from Hakata Station.

Garden Palace Hotel Fukuoka, Kyushu

The Garden Palace Hotel
4-8-15 Tenjin
Tel: 092-713-1112
Garden Palace Fukuoka Map

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Central Park Hotel Nagoya


The Central Park Hotel near Atsuta Jingu in Nagoya is a large multi-storey love hotel in the city.

Central Park Hotel Nagoya

The individually furnished rooms are excellent with lots of modern facilities including flat screen TVs, DVD players, TV Games and even slot machines in some of the rooms. If you tire from your exertions there is a food and drink menu ranging from Omrice to Thai chicken curry for eats and beer and coffee for drinks.

Central Park Hotel

Central Park Hotel Nagoya
Yokota 2-4-24
Tel: 052 683 0551
Access: 1 minute from JR Atsuta Station

There is also a Central Park Hotel in Toyama.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Usa Shrine Kunisaki


The original Usa-jinja (Tel: 0978 37 0001) in Usa in the Kunisaki Peninsula on Kyushu dates back over 1,000 years to 725 and the shrine is dedicated to Hachiman - the god of war and warriors.

Usa Shrine Kunisaki, Kyushu

The shrine is the oldest Hachiman shrine in Japan and ranks as one of the most important Shinto shrines in the country, up there with Ise Jingu and Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.

Hachiman is the deified Emperor Ojin, a legendary Emperor of Japan. Hachiman shrines have now spread throughout Japan from this first shrine in Kyushu. The present shrine buildings date from the mid-nineteenth century.

Usa Shrine has attracted imperial support over its long history and there are now over 40,000 branches shrines of Hachiman all over Japan.

The annual Usa shrine festival is held on March 18.

Usa Jingu

Oji, Minami-usa 2859
Tel: 0978 37 0001

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Japan News This Week 19 December 2010


Japan News.Japan Plans Military Shift to Focus More on China

New York Times

Beijing says Japan making irresponsible remarks

Washington Post

Japan moves on from the Cold War


Man held over knife attack in Japan


Visas for medical stays set to double

Japan Times

Le Japon renforce sa défense vis-à-vis de la Chine et de la Corée du Nord

Le Monde

Elsewhere: Top Ten Japanese phrases 2010

New York Times



Immigrants or Temporary Workers? A Visionary Call for a “Japanese-style Immigration Nation”

Japan Focus

Prince Fielder's Trip to Japan Renews Talks of "True" World Series

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Crime is at a 23-year low, according to police.

From January to November, there were 1,465,223 crimes reported in Japan. The annual total has fallen every year since 2003.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kanji Character For 2010: Sho


At the end of every year, the Japan Kanji [i.e. Chinese character] Proficiency Certification Society solicits from the public the kanji that best sums up the past year.

A ceremony takes place at Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera Temple where the selected kanji is publicly put to parchment by the head priest, presently Seihan Mori.

The kanji selected this year was the character for “hot,” pronounced sho or atsu.

This character was chosen because of the record high temperatures experienced in Japan this year.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hero Flutes Japanese Dance Flutes

Hero Flutes

A collection of genuine handmade Japanese flutes used in the ritual and festivals of the Iwami Kagura dance, a dramatic musical ritual that originated in the town of Iwami in Shimane prefecture as an appeasement dance for the Shinto gods.

With its long tradition, simply beauty, and pure tone, let the easy-to-play Iwami Kagura flute bring the magic of ancient Japanese dance music to your own fingers, lips and ears.

Hero Flutes
Hero Flutes
Hero Flutes
Hero Flutes

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Journalists outside Roppongi police station

麻布警察 写真家

I was in Roppongi last Friday on my way to Rhythm Rivalry, a very memorable percussion event that was happening at the performance/club space Superdeluxe. (Tokyo events on now)

Passing the Azabu Police Station near Roppongi Hills I noticed a group of photographers - clearly press photographers - waiting in front of it (sitting on left of sidewalk in above photo). The policeman on duty (standing at right with stick) was unfazed by it, and the photographers were in no hurry but looked like they were there for the long haul.

First I thought it may be something to do with the assault on the famous kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa, that had happened about a week before in the same area on November 25; but I saw the same thing this week too: a group of photographers waiting outside Kojimachi Police Station - placing that in some doubt. (More about Kojimachi)

I can only presume that either someone newsworthy was in there and they were waiting for him or her to come out, or that they were hanging around in the hope that that would happen.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Matsuura Historical Museum


The Matsuura Historical Museum (Tel: 0950 22 2236) in Hirado is located in the former residence of the Matsuura clan, who controlled the strategic island from the 11th-19th century.

Matsuura Historical Museum Hirado

This interesting museum displays artefacts and family treasures from the Matsuura clan including samurai arms and armor, calligraphy, documents, globes, Dutch ships' figureheads and a palanquin.

Matsuura Historical Museum Kyushu

The museum also includes a lovely garden with many fine wooden buildings and a Japanese teahouse. Inside the main building of the museum is a cafe decorated with 17th century western furnishing and ceramics and a shop. The Matsuura Historical Museum is located up the hill behind the harbor in Hirado town and is a short walk from the grave of William Adams.

Matsuura Historical Museum

Matsuura Historical Museum
Kagami-cho 12
Tel: 0950 22 2236
Admission: 500 yen

Hirado's other attractions include William Adam's Memorial at his graveside, Tabira Church, and the English Factory established with the help of Adams.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ninnaji Temple Guardians


Protecting the massive gate in front of Kyoto's Ninnaji Temple are two Nio-san.

These are massive guardian statues set in enclosed areas on the right and left of the temple entrance.

The one pictured above is on the right side of the gate.

Ninnaji is a spacious and elegant temple in western Kyoto. It was founded in the early part of the 9th century and was originally the summer home for the emperor.


A short walk from Omuro Station on the Kitano line of the Keifuku Railway.

Buses #10, #26, and #59 all stop at Ninnaji-mae.

33 Ouchi Omuro

There is a 400 yen entrance fee to the sub-temple on your left as you enter. The rest of the complex is free.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Japan News This Week 12 December 2010


Japan News.Japan's Graying Prison Population

New Zealand Herald

Japanese prisons face swelling elderly population

Washington Post

Japan targeted on Kyoto climate stance at Cancun Summit


Bated breath as Norwegian Wood film opens in Japan


Ebizo's alleged assailant arrested

Japan Times

Bombardement de Yonpyong : Washington met Pékin face à ses responsabilités

Le Monde

Japón se planta y eleva el tono de la negociación a solo 24 horas del final de la cumbre del clima

El Pais

Japanese Atrocities on Nauru during the Pacific War: The murder of Australians, the massacre of lepers and the ethnocide of Nauruans

Japan Focus

Athletics fail to reach deal with Japan’s Iwakuma

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


In 2009, the percentage of Japanese women whose first child was conceived prior to wedlock was 25.3%. Broken down by age group:

Teenage mothers: 81.5%
Mothers in 20s: 63.6%
Mothers in 30s: 12.1%

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tokyo Monorail To Haneda Airport International Terminal Station


The Tokyo Monorail connects Hamamatsucho Station to Haneda Airport.

Haneda Airport now has international flights to Asia, America and Europe after the opening of the new international terminal and the Haneda Airport International Terminal Station on October 21, 2010.

Built in 1964 as part of the Tokyo Olympics development, the cars of the Tokyo Monorail still have that 60s feel to them.

From Haneda Airport International Terminal Station the Tokyo Monoral links to Shin-Seibijō (新整備場), Haneda Airport Terminal 1 (羽田空港第1ビル) and Haneda Airport Terminal 2 (羽田空港第2ビル).

The Haneda Express takes 19 minutes to Haneda Airport Terminal 2 and just 13 minutes to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station from Hamamatsucho Station on the Yamanote Line. Local trains take 18 minutes to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station and Rapid trains 15 minutes.

From Monorail Hamamatsu the stations on the Tokyo Monorail are Tennozu Isle, Oi Keibajo-mae, Ryutsu Center, Showajima, Seibijo, Tenkubashi, Haneda Airport International Terminal Station, Shin Seibijo, Haneda Airport Terminal 1 and Haneda Airport Terminal 2.

Haneda Airport International Terminal Station

Suica and a number of other IC cards can be used on the Tokyo Monorail including: Icoca, Kitaca, Pasmo, Sugoca, Toica and Nimoca.

The standard fare from Monorail Hamamatsu to Haneda Airport International Terminal Station is 470 yen.

Tokyo Monorail

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, December 10, 2010

Toei-Oedo Line Tokyo


The Toei-Oedo Subway Line in Tokyo opened in 2000 and is the second-longest linear motor subway line after the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line in Osaka.

The Toei-Oedo is also one of the most expensive metro lines ever built in Japan and was 10 years in construction. The 40km line loops from Tocho-mae in Shinjuku with an extension from Tocho-mae to Hikarigaoka.

Important stations for connections to other lines include Ueno-Okachimachi, Iidabashi, Daimon, Shinjuku, and Nerima.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, December 09, 2010



Ginkgo trees
Ginkgo leaves in Kojimachi, Tokyo

Tokyo, among numerous other Japanese cities, is full of gingko trees (Ginkgo biloba), and autumn in Tokyo is characterized by the vivid yellow of the gingko's fallen leaves, and the distinctive smell (AKA the stench) of its seeds.

Ginkgo leaves in Tokyo
Gingko leaves stuck to a wall

The ginkgo is a living fossil, and has no closely related species. Its leaves and nuts are held to have various medicinal properties, some of them ratified by modern science, but many claims having been found to be imaginary.

They lend great character to Japanese streets in fall, as seen by these photos taken last week.

Ginkgo leaves
Gingko leaves in Asakusabashi, Tokyo

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Kodo’s 2010 December Concerts

鼓動 コンサート

Kodo drummers in concert.

Kodo's 2010 December Concerts Bring 2010 to a Close with 12 Shows Across 8 Cities Throughout Japan

Since their auspicious debut in 1981 at Berlin Symphonie Hall, Kodo has emerged as Japan's premiere performing arts group, setting the standard for ensemble taiko throughout the world. Touring eight months of the year both domestically and internationally, the group's annual
journey culminates every year in the annual December Concert series. The December Concerts are a chance for Kodo to regroup and review the year past, as well as to debut new material for the year to come.

This year, in addition to the regular opening night on Sado Island and performances in Niigata, Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo, 2010 will also see shows in Ashikaga, Sendai and Yokohama for a total of 12 shows throughout eight cities taking place December 1 through 19.

Artistic Director Mitsuru Ishizuka found his inspiration for this year's December Concerts in the Kodo Rehearsal Hall, a pivotal part of Kodo Village where the group lives and trains. The Rehearsal Hall is the bedrock of creation for Kodo performances and the starting point for the group's vigorous training program. Ishizuka designed this show to capture the atmosphere of this very special place: the enthusiasm, tension, stillness, breath, and fellowship felt between taiko and humans in this hallowed hall.

“The taiko clustered together on the stage, while based on the layout of the Rehearsal Hall, also conjures up the scene of a Japanese shrine,”explains Ishizuka.“People gather at a shrine to sing, dance, and drum so that their prayers may reach the heavens. In the same way, all of us at Kodo gather in our rehearsal hall and on stage day after day, singing, dancing, and playing the drums, in hopes that the sound of the taiko will reach as many people as possible.”

As always, the December Concert program features both classic compositions from the Kodo repertoire that have earned the group an avid following across the globe, and new compositions, such as Stride, written by Ishizuka himself and designed to make use of all of the drums in the group’s arsenal. This piece speaks of the “strides” Kodo has taken to date and the journeys that lie ahead, a perfect metaphor for the December Concerts’ year-end finale shows.

As Kodo turns the corner on three decades of history and the group prepares to enter its 30th anniversary year, the 2010 December Concerts are sure to carry a special celebratory energy and pizazz.

Ticket information and further details can be found on JapanVisitor's What's on in Tokyo and Kyoto page.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Kirin Beer Park Nagoya

If you are a fan of Japanese beer, then a trip to the Kirin Beer Park in Biwajima just one stop on the JR Chuo Line from Nagoya Station might be for you.

Kirin Beer Park Nagoya

Turn right out of Biwajima Station and a regular free bus will ferry you to the brewery.

The rather long-winded tour (in Japanese) introduces the visitor to the main ingredients of beer, plus the history of beer and the production facilities at the Nagoya brewery, which supplies the whole of the Chubu area.

The highlight of the tour is how to learn to pour a perfect glass of Kirin in three easy stages.

Participating on the tour allows the visitor two free draft Kirin beers. There is also a shop and a restaurant on the premises.

Kirin Beer Park
Tel: 052 408 2000

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, December 06, 2010

Kuko Line Fukuoka Subway


The Kuko (Airport) Line is one of the three subway lines in Fukuoka, Kyushu's largest city.

The Kuko Line operates from Meinohama in Nishi Ward to Fukuokakuko (Fukuoka Airport) in Hakata Ward. The line is represented by an orange (or red) color on Fukuoka subway maps.

Known officially as Line 1, the Kuko Line connects with the JR Chikuhi Line for trains to Karatsu and has stops at Hakata Station (for shinkansen links) and Tenjin Station.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Japan News This Week 5 December 2010


Japan News.Okinawa Re-elects Opponent of U.S. Base

New York Times

Japan, U.S. begin joint military exercises


Japan: Debt, demographics and deflation


Cancún climate change summit: Japan Kyoto shocker might be good news


Nissan rolls out Leaf electric car in Japan

Washington Post



Kan seen at critical turning point

Japan Times

Japan fear China the biggest obstacle to World Cup

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Children born to unmarried women:

Japan: 2.1%
Greece: 5%
Italy: 20.7%
Sweden: 54.7%

Source: Time

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Please Do It Again Tokyo Subway


Tokyo Subway

The "Please Do It Again" better manners campaign on the Tokyo subway this month has our hero conspicuously turning off his mobile phone in front of an admiring mother and kid.

Previous posters in the "Please Do It Again" series have included a young man giving up his seat to a man on crutches.

Please Do It Again Tokyo Subway

The initial "Do It At Home" campaign featured a young woman applying her make up on the trains and talking on her mobile phone. Other targets have been drunks sprawled over the seats, young people taking up too much room and a commuter shaking an umbrella over fellow travelers on the stairs.

Do It At Home

The man behind the striking manga-like designs is Bunpei Yorifuji, an admirer of the American pop-artist Edward Hopper and ukiyo-e master Hokusai.

Yorifuji bases his monthly designs on common complaints made to Tokyo Metro's Customer Relations Center (Tel: 03-3941-2030).

Do It At Home Tokyo Subway Campaign

Tokyo Metro has been running its "manner poster" campaign since 1974.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sky Tree Highest Structure In Japan


In a tale of two towers, I visited both the Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower (333m) as the former has surpassed the latter as the highest structure in Japan since March.

Tokyo Sky Tree and the Sumida River

The addition of a lightning conductor took the Tokyo Sky Tree Tower to 511m on Wednesday and when it is completed in 2012, the tower will become the world's tallest stand-alone communications tower at 634m.

Construction began on this super modern looking broadcasting tower in July 2008, and completion is scheduled for March/April 2012. But it is touted as more than just a broadcasting tower. It is also a landmark, on which much has been lavished in terms of design and technological expertise.

Tokyo Tower 333m tall

And it is also a "town with a tower," to become a 3 hectare complex that includes commercial, academic, and museum facilities, including a high rise building. The two observatories, one at 350m, the second at 450m, will include restaurants and shops.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Dance Performance at Shimbara Castle


In an attempt to draw in customers to the impressive Shimabara Castle staff are performing a funky dance routine outside the main entrance.

Dressed in Edo Period (1600-1868) costume, a ninja and samurai are among the cast of line dancers.

Shimabara Castle is the Kyushu port town's main attraction and well worth a visit.

The present Shimabara Castle is a 33m-tall, five storey, ferro-concrete structure re-built in the style of the original 17th century castle in 1964. Various yagura (towers) were restored at various times in the 1960s and 70s.

Shimbara Castle, Kyushu

The castle has an excellent museum inside detailing the Shimabara Rebellion and exhibits from the areas's Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") culture.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Japanese macaque in Hakone


Japanese macaque in Hakone sign

Japan has its own native species of monkey, the Macaca fuscata, commonly known as the Japanese macaque, or, in Japanese, the nihonzaru ("Japan monkey"). A subspecies, the Macaca fuscata yakui, is confined to the island of Yakushima.

Japanese macaques are 50-60cm in body length and weigh about 11kg. They range in color from yellowish brown, to brown, to gray. They have a pink face and a short stumpy tail.

Males and females of the species are distinguished by several traits such as size, the males being a little bigger; lifespan, the males living 5 or 6 times longer than the females, who usually live only about 6 years; and habitat, the males being ground-based while the females are tree-based.

The estimated nationwide population of the Japanese macaque is one million. They are found in almost every part of Japan except Hokkaido. 

Japanese macaques are not endangered, being on the "least concern" end of the endangered scale. They have natural predators such as dogs, raccoon dogs and hawks. They are also hunted when they threaten human crops. An estimated 100,000 are killed every year.

Because of their pest value, feeding monkeys in Japan is strongly discouraged. The above photo is a sign in the resort town of Hakone, and says えづけ禁止 or "Feeding prohibited."

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Fukuoka Tower

The 234m-high New Fukuoka Tower, located in the Seaside Momochi area of Fukuoka, is the tallest seaside observation tower in Japan and a striking example of Fukuoka's modern architecture.

The New Fukuoka Tower was constructed in 1989 and designed by the Nikken Sekkei company, who were also responsible for the Kobe Port Tower.

New Fukuoka Tower Kyushu

Fukuoka Tower has a triangular cross-section and is coated in mirrored glass. Fukuoka Tower is illuminated at night. At 123 meters is an observation deck with superb 360-degree views out over Fukuoka.

Close-by are a number of shops and restaurants and the Robosquare with displays of contemporary robots inside the TNC-TV Bldg.

New Fukuoka Tower, Kyushu

Fukuoka Tower Inc.
2-3-26 Momochihama
Fukuoka City
Tel: (092) 823-0234
Admission: 800 yen for adults
Hours: April-Sept 9.30am-10pm; October-March 9.30am-9pm
Access: There are Nishitetsu buses (approx 45 mins from Fukuoka Airport; 25 mins from Tenjin Station, 30 mins from Hakata Station, and 10 minutes from Nishijin-Fukuoka Tower South entrance bus stop).
The nearest subway is Nishijin and then a 15-minute walk or short bus ride.
Map of Fukuoka Tower

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, November 29, 2010

William Adams Grave Hirado


Those of us who are old enough to remember the classic, 1980 TV mini-series Shogun starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune will always have a soft spot for William Adams (1564-1620), the first Englishman to find himself in Japan.

William Adams Grave Hirado Kyushu

Adams' life was an unbelievable adventure story - shipwrecked off the coast of Japan on a Dutch ship the De Liefde, the Kent-born sailor, known in Japan as Miura Anjin ('Pilot'), was spared death and became a confidant of Tokugawa Ieyasu, advising the shogun on matters of navigation and ship-building.

Eventually Adams was granted the title of hatamoto - a samurai in direct service of the shogun - and granted lands and servants near present-day Yokosuka.

Adams moved to Hirado and was instrumental in setting up an English trading post on the island, though he quarreled with the English representative in Japan, John Saris, who disliked Adams for his adoption of a Japanese lifestyle and habits. Adams had taken a Japanese wife, with whom he had two children.

William Adams Grave Hirado

Adams passed away aged 55 on Hirado, a small island off the western coast of Kyushu, south of Fukuoka.

His grave, erected in 1954, is a short walk above the harbor and is a peaceful and evocative spot. A stone from the grave of his English wife was brought over from the UK to lie on Adams' tomb so the two could be reunited.

Another memorial stone at the site records the Englishmen who died in Japan during the 10 years of the English "factory" on Hirado.

Visitors on Hirado can also see Tabira Church, the English Factory established with the help of Adams and the Matsuura Historical Museum.

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