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Monday, May 31, 2010

Four Stories Osaka May 2010


Please join us for a Four Stories Osaka Special Event: Book Party, combining readings with a celebration of the forthcoming, award-winning book The Insomniac's Weather Report!

Featuring readings by:

Michael H. Fox, criminological researcher, social activist, and writer with essays and translations in the Japan Times, No. 1 Shimbun, Kansai Time Out, Asian Jewish Life, and the Asia-Pacific Journal
Jessica Goodfellow, author of The Insomniac's Weather Report, winner of the Three Candles Press First Book Award, and the award-winning poetry chapbook, A Pilgrim's Guide to Chaos in the Heartland; recipient of the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from The Beloit Poetry Journal; and three-time Pushcart nominee
Joshua Lewis, writer, translator, and former reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate
Elizabeth McKenzie, author of MacGregor Tells the World, a San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and Library Journal Best Book of the Year; Stop That Girl, a Newsday and Library Journal Best Book of the Year; and articles in The New York Times, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Pushcart Prize XXV, and more; and 2010 Japan-US Friendship Commission and National Endowment for the Arts Creative Artists Exchange Fellow.

Plus the Four Stories style of literary investigation: ask the best question; win a free drink!

6-8pm (venue opens @ 5)
Portugalia Bar & Grill
Nishi-Tenma 4-12-11, Umeda, Osaka
(Just north of the American Consulate)

Admittance free and open to the public.

More information, plus free MP3s and pictures from past events, @ fourstories.org

Four Stories in the Japanese Press: The International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun (1/23/09): Four Stories is spotlighted in the article “Writing about Japan: Join the Crowd (and have fun)” as an integral part of Japan’s English-language literary scene; The Japan Times (6/22/07): Four Stories is headlined on the front page of the Japan Times' national section, which reports, "'Four Stories has helped make Osaka the new Kyoto'....Slater and Four Stories have shown that Osaka's image among some foreign literary critics as a cultural desert is no longer entirely accurate”; Kansai Scene (6/1/07): Four Stories Japan is "re-energizing the reading movement " in Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe: Being a Broad magazine (1/1/08) : spotlights Four Stories founder Tracy Slater and the literary series, writing, "The expat community is grateful" for Four Stories.

Four Stories in the US Press: Improper Bostonian’s Best of Boston (8/1/08): “Best Literary Series”; Boston Globe (10/1/06) :"Four Stories is the city's hippest reading series" (3/19/06) "Everybody knows about Four Stories, everybody raves about Four Stories, and Four Stories is…the place to be”

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Japan This Week 30 May 2010


Japan News.Japan Relents on U.S. Base on Okinawa

New York Times



Australia to ask international court to ban Japan whaling in Southern Ocean


La crítica da un sobresaliente a 'Super Mario Galaxy 2'

El Pais

Futenma's relocation to Henoko a done deal

Japan Times

Japon : l'enlisement du gouvernement Hatoyama, par Philippe Pons

Yahoo France

World Cup guide - Japan


Japan Defies Australia on Whaling

New York Times

Japan Coach Takeshi Okada Not About To Change Despite Criticism

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

The number of foreigners visiting Japan in April hit an an all-time high. A jump of 25.8% on the previous year resulted in 787,900 visitors coming to Japan.

Source: Kyodo News

89 deaths were a direct consequence of Toyota vehicles acceleration, according to a report by the US National Highway Traffic Administration.

Source: AP

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hokkaido City Signs


Hokkaido's road signs for its cities are very distinctive. The sign for Abashiri in the north of the island shows the drift ice (ryuho) that the area is famous for in winter.

Hokkaido City Sign

Sapporo has its wooden clock tower (Sapporo Tokeidai) on North 1 West which is a Western-style building dating from the 1870s and built with help of the American government. The Tokeidai is the oldest building standing in the city.

Hokkaido Sign

Kitami goes for a rugby player with an onion as its head. Onions (as well as mint) are produced in this area of eastern Hokkaido and the town holds a rugby festival in August.

Hokkaido City Signs

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, May 28, 2010

Japan Newsletter May 2010


We are giving away some great prizes again this month in our Japan Visitor newsletter.

Even if you may never visit the country but are just interested in things Japanese please subscribe to our monthly newsletter to keep up with the latest travel and cultural news from Japan.

Take a look at May's Japan Visitor newsletter to see what you will receive in your email inbox.

Japan Newsletter May 2010

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Toyota Municipal Museum of Art 豊田市美術館


Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, is Toyota city's premier museum with a number of modern art exhibits and installations set in striking, contemporary buildings.

The large, permanent collection includes works by both Japanese and foreign artists. Some of the art on display was produced by such names as Francis Bacon, Christo, Salvador Dali, James Ensor, Alberto Giacometti, Ida Shoichi, Kawai Kanjiro, Maeta Kanji, Takahashi Setsuro and others.

Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi Prefecture.

The Toyota Municipal Museum of Art was designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, who was also responsible for the vast Hiroshima City Naka Incineration Plant. The museum has a recommended restaurant serving high-quality Japanese food, a cafe, museum shop and a Japanese tea ceremony house.

Toyota Municipal Museum of Art
5-1 Kozakahonmachi 8-chome
Aichi 471-0034
Tel:0565 34 6610
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:30
(entrance until 17:00)
Closed: Mondays
(except national holidays)
Admission: 300 yen

The Toyota Municipal Museum of Art is a 15-minute walk from Aichi Kanjo Railway Shin Toyota and Meitetsu Toyotashi stations (some subway trains on the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway run to Toyotashi Station or, if not, change at Akaike).

© JapanVisitor.com

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Laforet Harajuku Clean Busters

I came across the Laforet Harajuku Clean Busters on the streets of Omotesando in Tokyo the other day. Matching tops, short tartan skirts, black tights, Ugg boots and pretty green dust carts were the fashion order of the day.

Laforet Harajuku Clean Busters

Laforet in Harajuku is, of course, a mecca of teen and twenty-something's shopping. So what were these young people doing picking up cigarette butts and discarded plastic bottles?

Laforet Harajuku Clean Busters

The idea for young people to get involved with cleaning up the urban environment was started by the Shibuya-based NPO Greenbird in 2003. "A clean town also makes people's hearts and minds cleaned," is the group's watchword.

The idea grew from the clean-ups organized by Japanese university students who have periodic mass cleansing of their campuses and local areas, after everyone has littered the area for a few months.

Greenbird now organizes events in 30 different districts in Japan including Kabukicho, Kichijoji, Kamakura, Omiya, Nagoya and Sapporo. Paris and Sri Lanka also now have local chapters.

Laforet Harajuku Clean Busters Tokyo

206 Co-op Olympia, 6-35-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, 150-0001
Tel: 03 5469 5318

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sky Bus Tokyo


Skybus Tokyo offers four bus tours of central Tokyo with some of them having guidance in English, Korean and Chinese as well as Japanese. Open-top double-decker buses also run on some of the routes.

Sky Bus Tokyo

Tours start outside the Mitsubishi Building next to the Marunouchi Building across Gyoko Dori from the Shin Marunouchi Building near the Marunouchi Exit of Tokyo Station.

The T01 route follows a circle from the Mitsubishi Building to the Imperial Palace to the National Museum of Modern Art, the British Embassy, National Theater, Supreme Court, the Diet Building, Kasumigaseki and Ginza. Price is 1500 yen for adults; children 700 yen. Buses depart on the hour from 10am-6pm (1 March-30 November) and from 10am-5pm (2 January-27 February).

Sky Bus Tokyo

The T03 route follows a circle from the Mitsubishi Building to the Imperial Palace to Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Toyosu, Tsukiji, Ginza, Hibiya, and Marunouchi. Price is 1700 yen for adults; children 800 yen. Buses depart at 40 minutes past the hour from 10.40am-5.40pm (1 March-30 November) and at these times 10.20am, 11.50am, 1.20pm, 2.50pm, 4.20pm (2 January-27 February). This tour is in Japanese only. The tour lasts approx 50 mins.

The T03 route follows a circle from the Mitsubishi Building to the Imperial Palace to Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Toyosu, Tsukiji, Ginza, Hibiya, and Marunouchi. Price is 1700 yen for adults; children 800 yen. Buses depart at 40 minutes past the hour from 10.40am-5.40pm (1 March-30 November) and at these times 10.20am, 11.50am, 1.20pm, 2.50pm, 4.20pm (2 January-27 February). This tour is in Japanese only. The tour lasts approx 60 mins.

Sky Bus Tokyo

The N01 night route follows a circle from the Mitsubishi Building to the Imperial Palace, Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Rainbow Bridge, Tsukiji, Ginza, Hibiya, and Marunouchi. Price is 2000 yen for adults; children 1000 yen. Buses depart at 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday evenings except January 1. This tour is in Japanese only. The tour lasts approx 120 mins including a one hour stop at Aqua City in Odaiba.

The classic T04 route in a class-style bus follows a circle from the Mitsubishi Building to Hibiya, the Diet Building, Omotesando, Shibuya, Aoyama/Jingu Gaien, Akasaka Palace State Guesthouse (or, Geihinkan), Akasaka-Mitsuke and the Imperial Palace. Price is 1200 yen for adults; children 600 yen. Buses depart daily at 30 minutes past the hour from 10.30am to 5.30pmexcept January 1. This tour is in Japanese only. The tour lasts approx 70 mins.

Skybus Tokyo
Ticket Office, 1F Mitsubishi Building
Tel: 03 3215 0008

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kyoto Public Toilet

Kyoto public toilet京都公衆トイレ

Next to Kyoto's Kamo River, close to Demachiyanagi, we pass this public toilet three times a week en route to and from work.

It is popular with taxi drivers - there is a place to park just behind it - and students who have picnics on the river bank.

The picture taken at right is not voyeuristic per se; this is exactly what you see as you walk by.

At the moment the photo was taken, no one is using the public toilet.

Normally, one is treated to the sight of one or two or even three middle-aged men lined up and working the urinals.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Japan This Week 23 May 2010


Japan News.Architects at Play, Dangling Medals

New York Times



US and Japan strive to meet deadline for Okinawa airbase decision


EE UU y Japón refuerzan su alianza militar ante el reto de Corea del Norte

El Pais

Prosecutors quit on Ozawa again

Japan Times

Le Japon en mal de héros

Yahoo France

Japan's Venus mission lifts off


Japan's Takayuki Morimoto Wants To Put Himself In Shop Window In South Africa

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

A bit more than 20% of Japanese high school girls report having been abused by their boyfriends. That compares to 8.9% of Japanese high school boys who say they have been abused by their girlfriends.

The abuse was verbal or sexual.

Source: Kyodo News

Two Yubari melons were sold at auction for 1.5 million yen ($16,209 USD). The pair of premium cantaloupes fetched triple the price at the same auction last year.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

More than half of all crime and accidents committed by US military personnel stationed in Japan occurs in Okinawa.

From fiscal 2002 to 2005 there 1,054 such incidents in Okinawa, accounting for 54% of the national total.

Source: Kyodo News

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Boat Trip in Toba Bay


As well as the Mikimoto Pearl Museum, the Minatomachi Museum and the town's oyster bars, Toba offers a popular boat trip in the Toba Bay out to Iruka Island to a see a dolphin and seal show.

Boat Trip in Toba Bay

The recent movie The Cove, filmed down the coast in Taiji, raised rather serious questions about the dolphins in Japan's dolphin shows. Watching a dolphin show can never really be the same again with the knowledge that most of the dolphins on display are the lucky survivors of dolphin hunts which end in the bloody slaughter of their fellow creatures.

Boat Trip in Toba Bay

Ornamental Chinese style boats chug in a circle between the pier near Mikimoto Pearl Island, Toba Aquarium and Irukashima (Dolphin Island). Get on and off any boat on the course.

Prices are 1500 yen for adults; 750 yen for children including the prices of the shows

Tel: 0599 25 3145 Boats run every 30 minutes from 9am-4pm with earlier and later sailings in August.

Boat Trip in Toba Bay

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Suicide prevention campaign


The Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan concerns itself partly with the general health and safety of the Japanese population.

This spring’s Cabinet Office health campaign is a suicide prevention one, focusing on the issue of sleep deprivation, called “Nemurete-masuka?” or “Are you sleeping OK?”

According to the National Police Agency, over 30,000 people in Japan have killed themselves each year over the past 12 years, 40% of whom were males aged between 40 and 70. The suicide rate typically peaks in March, which is the end of the financial year in Japan, and which is therefore when this campaign was launched.

The message is “If you haven’t been sleeping properly for two weeks or more, you may be depressed, and liable to suicide.” Consultation with a doctor is recommended for people in this condition.

The Cabinet Office’s suicide prevention campaign video features a (typically, for Japanese TV, misty, airbrushed, romantic) after-breakfast scene at home with a puffy-eyed, exhausted-looking dad about to head out to work, and his mobile-phone texting daughter actually breaking away from her texting long and decisively enough to question dad about whether he’s been getting enough sleep or not. The campaign poster is based on the same scenario.

However, Japan’s suicide rate, while high, is not the highest in the world. It is second among the Group of Eight nations after Russia, and, according to the latest available figures, sixth highest in the world. However, there are those who believe that it may be much higher than reported, due to the Japanese government’s definition of suicide, which is rather narrower than that of the World Health Organization.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A 23-year old dispute National Railway Workers Union

国鉄労働組合 JR

A 23-year old dispute Japan

The wheels of the system turn very, very slowly in Japan - and the newspapers today carry the story of the conclusion of a dispute that has been going on for 23 years.

The National Railway Workers' Union (NRU, or "Kokuro")is a railway workers' union that protested heatedly against the 1987 privatization of Japan Rail. Pigheadedness in the leadership of both JR and the NRU led to an insoluble standoff between the two, and when Japan Rail was reborn in 1987 out of the old Japanese National Railways, NRU workers found themselves sidelined to largely meaningless jobs. Continued lack of attempts by the union to compromise with Japan Rail led ultimately to the mass desertion of over 200,000 NRU members, leaving the NRU a shell of its former self. However, many members remained, and, ultimately, 5009 NRU members remained unemployed by JR - most of them in the economic backwaters of Kyushu and Hokkaido. Over 200 committed suicide. On the other hand, most of those who quit the union found employment in JR.

Meanwhile, the other unions (the two biggest had merged) denounced the NRU, and opposed the employment by JR of any of its members. Most remaining NRU members were relegated to non-rail-related jobs such as manning station kiosks and stalls, servicing vending machines, and the like. (However, by the beginning of 2005, most of the them had got their old, more solid, posts back.)

In 1994, JR dropped its suit for damages against the NRU (it had reached a similar solution with the other unions at the time of privatization) in exchange for the NRU vacating its premises in favor of the JNR Settlement Corporation (which dissolved in 1998), a deal arranged by Minister of Transport at the time, Shizuka Kamei. The JNR Settlement Corporation itself, was, in effect, something of a holding pen for the NRU members who had not found employment in the new JR. The money given to the NRU in exchange for its vacating of its premises was widely held to be, in effect, a payment for a solution to the long-running stand-off. The sum paid was undisclosed.

Upon the dissolution of the JNR Settlement Corporation, the 1047 NRU members left formed a nationwide network of 36 "NRU Struggle Groups," which together sued JR at the District Labour Relations Commission, which ruled in favor of the union. However, JR fought back, with the support of the other (pro-JR) unions, which even threatened to strike in protest if NRU members were employed. The suit was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court in 2003, which ruled in favor of JR.

However, the indefatigable NRU Struggle Groups sued again, this time sued the successor to the JNR Settlement Corporation, the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation (whose role has now been taken over by the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency) for "discriminatory hiring practices" in its allocation of work in JR to its members. The court only partially accepted the claim, and, although it awarded damages, the still disgruntled NRU Struggle Groups appealed.

By 2000, cracks were starting to show within the NRU leadership, and the three parties in power at that time, together with the Socialist Party, agreed to seek a payment to the union from JR in return for the NRU recognizing that JR had no legal liability to pay its members damages, as the Supreme Court had determined. The NRU rejected this, as it offered no guarantee of payment, but only a promise to try and get payment.

Severe internal friction on the NRU side was now apparent. The NRU conflicted with the NRU Struggle Groups, which had filed suit against the the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation independently of the NRU proper. However, following a 2005 ruling by the Tokyo District Court that partially defended the NRU against JR, NRU unity was restored in 2006. In its ruling, the Tokyo District Court awarded the plaintiffs damages of 5 million yen each, but because the court ruled that the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation was not responsible for rehiring them, the NRU appealed.

In 2008, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the Japan Railway Construction Public Corporation.

Today, the government announced a brokered settlement with the NRU of a 22 million yen (about USD240,000) payout to each aggrieved NRU member, conditional on recognizing that the government does not guarantee them a job with JR. As of the 17th, 904 of the 910 plaintiffs had accepted the sum.

The initial award having been 5 million yen each, there is now widespread public murmuring and eye-rolling over the 22 million each plaintiff has now received. It is seen as the result of gonetoku (ごね得). gone is the noun form of the verb goneru, meaning to incessantly and insistently grumble, and the toku (from the verb tokusuru) means to gain or profit. In other words, complain long and loud enough and you'll get what you want, or "the squeakiest wheel gets the oil."

The case is long and complex - the above narrative is a summary only - and replete with personal and organizational frustrations and tragedies. The plaintiffs are now at least in their 40s (see photo at top of NRU members protesting in 2008), and have probably spent the main part of their careers feeling wronged and embittered. Over 200 of them have already taken their own lives. Even with the money, their crux of the dissatisfaction: unfair treatment, remains unresolved.

Were the initial fears of the NRU concerning the privatization of the national railways justified? Did they not become a self-fulfilling prophesy? Could JR have more effectively quieted those fears at the beginning? Did the NRU's original leaders perhaps have a self-interested hand in fanning them?

On the other hand, many of the members of other unions who accepted the privatization of JR are now probably equally embittered that their compliance and cooperation has been eclipsed by this rewarding of the NRU members' belligerence.

Read about trainspotting in Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Johnny B. Goode at Harajuku on a Sunday

ジョニービーグッド 原宿

Harajuku is Tokyo's most well-known center of street culture. It's where you'll find any of the myriad fashion fads that Japanese young folks are into, played out to the fullest.

Yoyogi Park is, unlike the name suggests, not accessible from the JR Yoyogi station, but from the next station on the loopline, Harajuku. Being in Harajuku, it is where you'll find fashion fads free of the commercialism that completely soaks the rest of the area. This is where kids who have done with shopping just show their stuff - most of it in the form of music and dance.

Rock'n'roll is an old hardy of the Japanese street scene. It is perhaps just as in evidence now as it was when I first came to Japan over 20 years ago. Walking through Harajuku this Sunday was this circle of jiving guys and gals doing their thang to, among other numbers, Johnny B. Goode.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

News-kun: newspaper vending machine Tokyo

ニュースくん 東京

Newspaper vending machine, Tokyo

Japan is the land of the vending machine. You are hard pressed to find a 100 meter stretch of any built-up part of Japan (500m, perhaps, in the countryside) lacking a machine offering you something to buy.

The vast majority of vending machines in Japan are for canned or, less commonly, bottled, drinks, hot and cold - soft drinks and alcohol. However, a significant proportion of them offer other goods, too, mainly food, but also cigarettes, and other much whackier stuff. Some of them even sing!

I came across a vending machine, however, that offered the written word: a newspaper vending machine. Something of a rarity, but perhaps in this age of electronic media it is an apt response to the threat of the LCD screen than newspapers are facing.

This machine, cutely named “News-kun” (“kun” being an affectionate suffix added to a boy’s name), sells, from the top, the Tokyo Shimbun (shimbun meaning “newspaper”, beginning in 1884 as the Konnnichi Shimbun) for 100 yen, the Tokyo Chunichi Sports (published by the same company as the Tokyo Shimbun) for 120 yen, the Tokyo Yukan (i.e. Tokyo evening newspaper) for 40 yen, the Tokyo Sports for 130 yen, the Nikkan Gendai (a tabloid known for its harsh criticism of among others, Koreans, the Soka Gakkai, and the Liberal Democratic Party) for 130 yen.

Helpfully, the machine shows the date at the top. For some reason, the 500 yen slot has been taped over, but it still takes 100, 50, and 10 yen coins. Like all vending machines in Japan, it gives change.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, May 17, 2010

Civil disobedience in Japan - NHK fee


Civil disobedience in Japan.

Civil disobedience in Japan? Conjures up images of anti-Vietnam War, anti-Narita Airport student demos in the 1960s and 1970s. However, it's been happening for years in a much milder way vis-à-vis the national broadcaster Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK) (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and its monthly television fee that all TV owners in Japan are by law required to pay.

However, in spite of payment being compulsory, no penalties are stipulated for failure to pay. NHK therefore has relied on bluster and threats to try and get people to pay. NHK fee collectors are renowned for their persistence and aggressiveness. Once you open the door to them, they will put their foot in the door, making it impossible to close it, and whether or not you pay is the result of a raw battle of wills. I now live in an apartment which requires entry by buzzer. Even then, when I played dumb over the intercom last month to the collector, he bellowed "OPEN UP!" – genuinely steaming!

However, according to the latest news reports, NHK has got tough (news that, somehow or other, feels like a repetition of past episodes). NHK has targeted eight TV owners in Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka Hyogo (capital: Kobe), Aichi, Fukushima (home to Oze National Park), Okayama, and Kochi by sending them a notice that unless they pay by the deadline, they will be sent a payment order from the district court.

Refusal to pay the NHK fee has become an institution in Japan, with at least one blog devoted to promoting non-payment, and YouTube videos telling you how to avoid having to pay.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Japan This Week 16 May 2010


Japan News.U.S. Presses Toyota to Make Good on Safety Pledges

New York Times



Dolphin meat causing dangerous mercury levels in Japanese diners


Toyota ganó 1.778 millones de euros el año de su crisis

El Pais

U.S. sees new air base plan as more risky

Japan Times

Japon: 33.000 suicides en 2009

Yahoo France

Why Go?


Japan Starts to Shop Its Bullet Train Technology

New York Times

Blue Samurai put faith in fusion of right chemistry

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

According to the Save the Children, Norway is the best place in the world to be a mother. The group compared the well-being of mothers and children in 42 developed countries and 117 developing countries.

Its Women's Index ranked Norway first and Japan 32nd, which was almost worst among developed countries. Japan was 12th in 2006, but has dropped since then.

Australia came in 2nd.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Following a terrible year in car sales, Nissan is back in the black.

The Japanese auto maker reported a net profit of 42 billion yen. That compares with 233 billion yen loses the year before.

Source: Kyodo

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bicycle Parking In Japan


Many railway and subway stations in Japan will have bicycle parking lots nearby. In more rural or suburban areas these will be free. In inner city districts, a parking fee will be charged.

Bicycle Parking

At Akaike Station on the Tsurumai Line of Nagoya subway, there is a large, outdoor and free parking area for bicycles and motorcycles (2017 update: this is now paid-for). The next stop heading into Nagoya city, Hirabari, has a covered, paid-for parking lot. It costs 100 yen to park here for 24 hours or you can purchase a monthly ticket.
The bicycle park is staffed by uniformed ojisan (older men) who may help you find a spot during the busy rush hour period. Buy a ticket from the machine and attach it to your bike. The bike parks are usually open from early in the morning to the time of the last train at night.

Bicycle Parking

To cut down on cyclists fly parking on pavements, the sidewalk space outside many urban stations in Japan is being taken up by paid for parking areas for bicycles. At Shiogamaguchi Station a few stops further into town from Hirabari on the Tsurumai subway line, ticket machines and yellow parking frames have been built to cut down on illegal parking outside the station exit.

Bicycle Parking

If you do park illegally, your bicycle maybe impounded by the city and you will have to pay a fine and travel to the pound (usually located in the middle of nowhere) to retreive your bicycle.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mitake Gifu Prefecture


Mitake is an old post town on the northern, mountain trade route from Kyoto to Tokyo, known as the Nakasendo 中仙道. In Gifu Prefecture, the Nakasendo highway passes through Ena, Iwamura, Mitake and on to Magome and Tsumago.


There are a few sights to see within easy walking distance of Mitake Station.

Nearest to the station is the ancient temple of Gankoji, which originally dates from the Heian Period, though the oldest buildings that survive are around 400 years old. The temple has some historic wooden statues which may be viewed in a storehouse near the main hall.

Nakasendo Mitakekan

Walking down the main street brings you to the modern Nakasendo Mitakekan (Mitake Nakasendo Museum) with exhibits showing the history of the area from earliest times to the present, with emphasis on the economic and social history of the Nakasendo highway.

Nearby is the preserved wooden gate of an inn used by feudal lords and other dignitaries as they made their way to and from Edo.

Takeya Residence

Virtually next door is the fascinating Takeya Residence, a preserved Meiji-era (1877) house of the Takeya merchant family who made their fortune in the timber trade and the manufacture of indigo-dyed cloth before moving to Nagoya. There is a reconstructed Edo-period kitchen, a teahouse and garden and a storehouse on the property.

Daichisan Gukeiji Temple has a small stone garden and is north of National Highway 21 behind Mitake Elementary School. Walking away from Mitake Station brings you into some lovely countryside.

Nakasendo Mitake Gifu Prefecture


The quickest way to reach Mitake is on the Meitetsu Hiromi Line from Inuyama via Nagoya. Change trains at Shin-Kani for the local train to Mitake. The tiny tourist information center is inside the small Mitake Station.

Inuyama can be reached by express train from Nagoya Station.

Book a hotel in Gifu Japan with Booking.com

© Japan Visitor

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Roku Shingan Chinese Medicine

Roku shingan六神丸

Kyoto is home to many small, medium, and a handful of quite large companies.

Many of the larger, better-known companies - Nintendo (playing cards), Kyocera (ceramics), Wacoal (textiles), Omron (electronics) - were born of humble origins prior to growing into their present incarnations (noted in the parenthesis).

Another product born in Kyoto is Roku Shingan. This is a miracle drug - Chinese herbal medicine - that is good for an upset tummy, dizziness, intestinal pain, and much more.

The tiny black dot-like pills contain the following:

dried cow gallstones
serow (wild goat) horn

Some of the ingredients are no longer commercially available because of environmental restrictions - the Washington Convention. The company, however, insists that it has stocks to last decades.

The banner above right is around the corner from Hirano Shrine, and is where the medicine was born (after the technology was imported from China one hundred years ago).

Short of swearing off booze, it is the closest thing to a cure for a hangover.


Availability is generally limited to Kyoto drug stores following a change in national law governing drugs and distribution thereof

5,250 yen for 48 pills

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Takayoshi Kido Residence Hagi


Takayoshi Kido aka Kido Koin (1833-1877) is my favorite protagonist from the Bakumatsu Period of Japanese history when the Tokugawa regime came crashing down after over 250 years in power, to be replaced by the modernizing and westernizing though extremely conservative Meiji government of 1868.

Takayoshi Kido Residence, Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

I got to know Kido through his excellent diaries, which recall a by-gone life of late Edo Period Japan. Kido relates a typical day leisurely sailing down the river from Kyoto to Osaka, enjoying sake all the way, spending the evening flirting with geisha in Sakai, before taking a Western ship to Edo - all in the midst of a violent revolution! What calmness under pressure! What elan!

Takayoshi Kido

Kido was the son of a Choshu clan doctor but was adopted by the Katsura family when he was seven years old and was called Katsura Kogoro at this time. As a youth, Kido was a student of Yoshida Shoin in Hagi.

Kido's early life in both Edo and Kyoto was eventful and full of political intrigue and danger as he conspired with Choshu activists in the struggle against the Tokugawa. While in hiding from the feared Shinsengumi swordsmen in Kyoto, Kido sought refuge in a geisha house and was later to marry one of the geisha working there.
Kido also supervised the construction of Choshu's first Western-style ship in Hagi in his role of advisor to the Choshu daimyo.

After the Restoration in 1868, Kido was instrumental in drafting the Five Charter Oath and the legislation that would lead to the abolition of the han (domain) system and the subsequent beginnings of a centralized government. Kido was also part of the Iwakura Mission that toured the USA and Europe in 1871 to study the political and economic institutions of the west.

Kido's residence is preserved in Hagi's Horiuchi quarter and is a simple Japanese-style house with tatami floors in lots of small rooms. There are two entrances: one for family members and the other for guests.

Kido died early after a long illness, possibly TB and beri-beri, exacerbated by the prodigious amounts of sake he seems to have drunk throughout his life.

"I drank more than I should have tonight, and I dreamed endlessly. At times the moon shone brightly, then again it was hidden behind a cloud. My two acquaintances have died, so I do not record their names; but I grieve for them."

Excerpt from Kido's diary August 6, 1868

Hagi's many attractions include its beautiful walls, the historic Meirin Elementary SchoolShoin Shrine, the Takayoshi Kido residenceKikugahama Beach, a tour boat of Hagi and Ito Hirobumi's Residence.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kyoto International Scene Escape Event

Kyoto International Scene Escape Event

Start Time: Friday, 5月14日 May 14, 2010 at 20:00pm
End Time: Saturday, 5月15日 May 15, 2010 at 4:00am After party is free!
Location: Club WORLD
Street: BF-2F IMAGIUM, 97 Shinmachi Shijyo-agaru Nishi-Kiyamachi Shimogyou-ku
City/Town:Kyoto, Japan

BLOG: kyotois.blogspot.com

ESCAPE the drama, stress, and problems by having a GREAT NIGHT at Club WORLD! (TAKE A LOOK AT WORLD www.world-kyoto.com/ ) Come meet new people, make new friends, and enjoy yourself!
新しい友達に会えるかも ♡♡♡♡♡ 楽しんじゃってください!

INTERNATIONAL DJs playing the hottest songs in the world!

CONFIRMED DJs- Some of the hottest spinning in Kyoto, Osaka, and Internationally!!!!
DJ SoundTroy- Jamaica
DJ Seeb- Italy
DJ AGA- Poland
DJ Killa Carl- America



RSVP-EMAIL: kyotointernationalscene@gmail.com
メールでこちら→ kyotointernationalscene@gmail.com まで!

Directions to WORLD

K.I.S Family (Sponsors):
K101- Kyoto Nightlife 101- Once a month we do tours of local bars. If you attend this K.I.S event you only have to pay 500yen for our next K101 event. More info: info@osakanightlife101.info
K.I.S スポンサー:
K101- Kyoto Nightlife 101- 毎月一回京都でバーツアー慣行中。.このイベントに参加された方は次回のKyoto101には500円で参加していただけます
More info: info@osakanightlife101.info

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Renewing A Driving License in Japan


Holders of a Japanese drivers' license will have to renew their license every five years.

Renewing A Driving License in Japan

You will be sent a form 30 days before your birthday and will have 60 days to visit your local driving license center and renew your license. If you fail to attend you will be required to take a Japanese driving test.

To renew your license you will need to present your old license and undertake a perfunctory eye test, be photographed and attend a road safety video lecture.

Renewing A Driving License in Japan

Hundreds of people will be processed on the day you attend and a fee of 3,250 yen will be levied. Expect to stand in long lines.

After attending the road safety video/lecture, your name will be called and your new license will be handed out.

Renewing A Driving License in Japan

It is debateable whether the cost of the new license covers the administration and loss of productivity incurred as a result of people taking time off work to attend the renewal process.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Japan This Week 9 May 2010


Japan News.Canada’s Doubts on Toyota

New York Times



Japan PM backtracks on Okinawa military base pledge


Una inmersión en el negocio de matar delfines

El Pais

Monju's restart hit by faulty gas detector

Japan Times

A Okinawa, les habitants profitent des bases militaires américaines tout en souhaitant leur départ

Le Monde

Japan drops bid to host 2018 World Cup to aim for 2022


As Kyoto Attractions, Wave Pools vs. Temples

New York Times

Veteran Ono makes case for World Cup team

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

The population of Japanese children decreased for the 29th year in a row. The number of children under the age of 15 declined by 190,000 last year, falling to 16.94 million as of April 1.

Source: Kyodo News

65% of Japanese men are in favor of making paternal leave obligatory.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

Membership in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) fell below one million at the end of 2009. That is the first time since 1977 - the year records first started being kept - that it has dropped below a million.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Votive Tablets Kamigamo Shrine

Good Luck tablets Kamigamo Shrine絵馬上賀茂神社

At Japanese shrines and temples, you may come across a frame on which wooden tablets have been strung in lines.

These colorful painted tablets are known as "ema" and can be bought at the shrine. They are supposed to bring one luck.

The tablets pictured here are hanging at Kyoto's Kamigamo Shrine.

Ema, good luck They cost 500 yen.

After purchasing one, you write your wish or hope on the tablet and hang it with the others.

These "ema" are quite elaborate and beautifully drawn. Also, note the bells.

At this time of year, nearby Ota Shrine is also worth a visit to see its irises.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ota Shrine Iris

Iris at Ota Shrine大田神社アヤメ

A 15-minute walk from Kitayama, in north Kyoto, is Ota Shrine.

It is part of the Kamigamo Shrine "family," and is about 10 minutes on foot from the much larger and better known shrine.

Ota Shrine is flush against the mountains that ring the city.

Irises Ota Shrine Ota Shrine is best known for its irises. They are located in a small pond that is barely visible under a sea of green - and then in early May purple.

The shrine is free to visit, except for during iris season. At that time, a donation of 300 yen is requested.

From Kitayama Station, walk up any of the north-south streets across Kitayama Dori heading north. After 10 minutes or so, ask directions. You'll get there.

Alternatively take Kyoto bus #4 from Kyoto Station, Shijo Kawaramachi or Sanjo Kawaramachi and get off at Kamigamo Shogakko-mae and walk a few minutes directly north.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Yasukuni Shrine Tour


Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is without doubt Japan's most controversial shrine and previous visits to the shrine by Japanese Prime Ministers and government officials have enraged public opinion in South Korea and China.

However, the controversy surrounding Yasukuni is fairly recent, stemming from the decision in 1979 to enshrine Japan's wartime leader General Hideki Tojo and 13 other Class-A war criminals (found guilty by the victorious allied forces after World War II at the The International Military Tribunal for the Far East).

Up until that point, Yasukuni had not featured on the political radar at all.

JapanVisitor visits Yasukuni Shrine in a series of two YouTube videos. Click Part 1 above, then Part 2 below, for a virtual tour.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Kevin Turner Shamanism Workshop

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies

"Shamanism is a path of knowledge, not of faith, and that knowledge cannot come from me or anyone else in this reality. To acquire that knowledge, including the knowledge of the reality of the spirits, it is necessary to step through the shaman's doorway and acquire empirical evidence."

Michael Harner, Ph.D.
FSS Founder and President
Author of The Way of the Shaman

The Basic Workshop in Core Shamanism

Kyoto: May 15 - 16, 2010
Tokyo: May 27 - 28, 2010

Core Shamanism

Core shamanism is the universal or near-universal principles and practices of shamanism not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective, as originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner. Since the modern world overwhelmingly lost its shamanic knowledge centuries ago due to political and religious oppression, the Foundation’s programs in core shamanism are particularly intended for modern peoples to reacquire access to their rightful spiritual heritage through quality workshops and training courses. Training in core shamanism includes teaching students to alter their consciousness through classic shamanic non-drug techniques such as repetitive drumming so that they can discover their own hidden spiritual resources, transform their lives, and learn how to help others. Core shamanism does not focus on ceremonies, such as those of Native Americans, which are part of the work of medicine men and women, persons who do both shamanism and ceremonial work.

Michael Harner's
The Way of the Shaman: Shamanic Journeying, Power, and Healing

The Basic Workshop in Core Shamanism (Weekend)

Kyoto: May 15 - 16, 2010
Tokyo: May 27 - 28, 2010

During the Basic experiential workshop, participants are introduced to core shamanism, the universal and near-universal basic methods of the shaman to enter non-ordinary reality for problem solving and healing.

Particular emphasis is on the classic shamanic journey, one of the most remarkable visionary methods used by humankind to explore the hidden universe otherwise known mainly through myth and dream. Participants are initiated into shamanic journeying, aided by drumming and other techniques for experiencing the shamanic state of consciousness and for awakening dormant spiritual abilities, including connections with Nature. Practice includes comparisons by participants of their discoveries in shamanic journeys as well as being introduced to shamanic
divination and healing. They are also provided with methods for journeying to meet and study with their own individual spirit helpers in nonordinary reality, a classic step in shamanic practice. Participants learn how the journey is utilized to restore spiritual power and health, and how shamanism can be applied in contemporary daily life to help heal oneself, others, and the Planet. Basic and Advanced courses to be continuously offered in Japan and Asia.

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies Faculty for Asia: Kevin Turner
Tel/fax: 075-723-4379

English website: www.shamanism.org
Japanese website: www.shamanism.org/workshops/japanese.html

Kevin Turner’s English bio: www.shamanism.org/fssinfo/turnerbio.html

Kevin Turner's site: www.shamanism-asia.com


The Foundation for Shamanic Studies

「シャー マニズムとは、知識の道であって信仰の道ではない。そしてその知識は、私や或はこのリアリティ(現実)における他の誰からも得ることは出来ない。精霊達の 現実に関する知識を含むこの知識を身につけるには、シャーマンの門戸をくぐり、自らの経験を通して証拠を掴んでいかねばならない。」

マイケル・ハーナー Michael Harner, Ph.D

Core Shamanism

コア・シャーマニズム(核心のシャーマニズム)とは、マイケル・ハーナーが考案、研究、発展させた、シャーマニズムにおけるほぼ普遍的と言える原理とその 実践のことであり、いかなる特定の文化組織や観点とも結びつくものではない。シャーマニックな知識の大方は、政治的/宗教的弾圧が原因で、何世紀も前に甚 だしく失われてしまった。その様な背景から当財団のコア・シャーマニズムのプログラムは、現代人が良質のワークショップやトレーニングを通して、正当な精 神的文化遺産との繋がりを取り戻せるようにすることを意図している。コア・シャーマニズムのトレーニングでは、参加者が意識を変性させていく際に、繰り返 されるドラムの音の様な伝統的シャーマニズムの非薬物的手法を使い、参加者がどのように自らの隠された精神的源泉を発見し、人生を変容させ、また他者の助 けとなっていけるか、ということも教えられる。コア・シャーマニズムは、例えばネイティブアメリカン達が行う様なセレモニー(儀式)には主眼を置かない。 これらは、シャーマニズムと儀式行為の両方を行うメディスンマンやメディスンウーマン達の仕事の一部である。



The Way of the Shaman workshop

ベーシックの体験的ワークショップでは、参加者はシャーマンのほぼ普遍的基本体系であるコア(核心の)・シャーマニズムに触れ、問題解決やヒーリングの為 に非日常的リアリティへと入っていく。 ここで特に重要視されるのが古典的なシャーマンの旅である。これは、人類が隠された宇宙を探究する為に使った、最も注目に値する先見的な手法であり、この 手法無しには、隠された宇宙は主に神話や夢を通してのみしか知り得ないものであった。 参加者はシャーマンの旅をする手ほどきを受け、ドラムの音やその他のテクニックの助けを得ながらシャーマン的意識状態を体験し、大自然と繋がることを含む 眠っているスピリチュアルな能力を目覚めさせていく。 またシャーマンの旅の中での発見について、参加者同士で話し合ったり、シャーマンの直感的予見やヒーリングにも実習の中で触れていく。 更に、旅をする中での非日常的リアリティにて自らのスピリットヘルパーと出会い、そこから学んでいくというシャーマンの実践に於ける古典的ステップの方法 も伝授される。 このように参加者達は、この旅が如何にして自らのスピリチュアルなパワーや健康を回復させるのに役立つのか、また如何にしてシャーマニズムが現代の日常生 活の中で自分や他人を癒したり、この惑星を癒すことに適用できるのかを学ぶ。


ゲートウェイ・エクスカージョン 33,000円

■ 京都市:5月15日(土)〜16日(日)
シャーマンへの道 (通訳あり)33,000円

■ 京都市:5月22日(土)〜23日(日)定員10名( 通訳あり)
レベル1:コーディネート・リモートヴューイング(CRV)37,000 円

■ 東京都世田谷区:5月29日(土)〜30日(日)
シャーマンへの道 (通訳あり)33,000円

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hagi Sightseeing Boat


Hagi's sightseeing boat service, like a similar operation in Matsue up the coast, takes in the town's main sightseeing spots at a leisurely speed.

Boats were a major means of transportation in the city's past and a boat tour or rickshaw ride is a great way for the visitor to return to the rhythms of the Edo Period.

Hagi Sightseeing Boat

The basic course begins at the Shizuki Bridge near Hagi Castle and proceeds to the castle canal and the Hashimoto River via Tokiwa Island; Kikugahama Beach and the samurai residences of Horiuchi and Hiyako in Hagi are viewed from the sea.

The whole trip takes about 40 minutes in wooden, flat-bottom boats provided with a roof.

The service runs from March through November from 9am-5pm except in November when boats run from 9am-4pm as the evenings draw in.

Cost 1200 yen or 1,000 yen if more than 20 people participate.

Tel: 0838 25 1750

Hagi's many attractions include its beautiful walls, the historic Meirin Elementary SchoolShoin Shrine, the Takayoshi Kido residenceKikugahama Beach, this tour boat of Hagi and Ito Hirobumi's Residence.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tsukiji Fish Market To Limit Visitors


The popular Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo will limit the number of visitors to its tuna auctions from May 10 after this year's Golden Week holidays.

With up to 500 people sometimes gathering to watch the tuna auctions, the Tokyo metropolitan government has decided to limit the number of visitors to 140 daily, divided into two groups, with 70 people allowed to view the auction at any one time.

*In 2016 Tsukiji Fish Market will move to a new site in Toyosu.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Japan This Week 2 May 2010


Japan News.90,000 Protest U.S. Base on Okinawa

New York Times

徐祥临:先治中国病 再防日本病


Japan obtains arrest warrant for anti-whaling group leader


BAFF Anime: un minifestival dentro del festival

El Pais

Jobless rate climbed to 5.2% in '09

Japan Times

Vacances japonaises, par Philippe Pons

Le Monde

Dating by blood type in Japan


Better Place Opens Battery-Swap Station in Tokyo for 90-Day Taxi Trial

New York Times

Exclusive Interview: Japan FA Vice-President Junji Ogura - No Plans To Replace Coach Takeshi Okada

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Toyota sales, March 2010: 773,297 vehicles (97% increase over May 2009).
Honda sales, March 2010: 349,425 vehicles (62% increase over May 2009).
Nissan sales, March 2010: 318,827 vehicles (85% increase over May 2009).

Source: Bloomberg

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Please Do It Again


Please Do It Again Poster

The "Do It At Home" better manners campaign on the Tokyo subway has had a subtle verbal makeover to become "Please Do It Again" - encouraging repeated kind behavior rather than chastising the capital's stressed out strap hangers for manner misses.

Previous posters have 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 responsible for the striking manga-like designs is Bunpei Yorifuji, a fan of American 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

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