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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Japan News this Week 31 October 2010


Japan News.Japan Calls on China to Resume Rare Earth Exports

New York Times

Beijing now worried anti-Japan protests could backfire

Christian Science Monitor

Goodwill and compromise: Nagoya biodiversity deal restores faith in UN


China, Japan spat dims possibility of talks

Washington Post



Dolphin hunters, activists set to hold parley in Taiji

Japan Times

Japan and China island row flares at Asean summit


Avec l'initiative Satoyama, le Japon se lance dans la protection des terroirs

Le Monde

Nishioka beats Munroe to defend WBC title

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

The Japanese Giant Salamander, which can grow to up to 1.5 meters, may be disappearing. It is not however environmental and or human pressure that is causing the decline.

Rather, it is an invasive species - the Chinese Giant Salamander - that is the problem.

The Chinese Giants are mating with its Japanese cousin, creating bastard salamanders.

According to a research team from Kyoto University, of the 79 salamanders living in the area in the northern reaches of the Kamo River, just four percent were pure Japanese Giants. 11 percent were pure Chinese Giants, and the rest (85%) were half breeds.

Though the total number of Giants has increased slightly, only three years ago, 47% were pure Japanese Giant Salamanders.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Butakusa Ragweed

The tall yellow weed seen at this time of year along river banks and on waste ground is ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia, known in Japanese as ブタクサ (豚草) lit. "pig grass."

Butakusa Ragweed

This invasive plant is also a major source of allergy from the pollen on its yellow seeds and affects people who also suffer from allergies to the pollen from Japanese cypress (hinoki) and cryptomeria (sugi) trees.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

There's No Biodiversity In Tarmac


The images below are of a new convenience store near where I live in Nagoya.

There's No Biodiversity In Tarmac Nagoya

The store must have the largest car park of any konbini in Japan. It used to be a second hand car showroom which went bust recently. As is often the case in Japan, when a business goes into liquidation its premises are simply leveled and tarmaced over, awaiting a new owner.

Nagoya Convenience Store

A small area at the edge of the car park, which only ever has a few cars in it, has been turfed and a sign "planted" politely asking customers to keep quiet so as not to disturb the neighbors.

As Nagoya hosts the COP 10 conference this month and suffered from its hottest ever summer this year, its mystifying why so little is done to combat the city's notorious heat island effect.

Nagoya Convenience Store, Tenpaku-ku

Trees? Who needs 'em? Trees are not part of the convenience culture.

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COP 10

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Miso Soup


As part and parcel of Japanese cuisine as sushi and rice, miso soup (misoshiru) is a true gourmet's delight. Made from a fish-based stock (dashi), miso soup is not suitable for vegetarians but for demi-veggies miso soup is usually a meat-free zone.

Miso Soup

Softened miso paste (made from soy beans) is added to the dashi stock to form the base of the soup and various ingredients are added such as cubes of tofu, Chinese cabbage, daikon radish, wakame seaweed, sliced negi onions and mushrooms.

There is considerable regional as well as seasonal variety in the type of miso used producing different flavors between Kansai and Kanto miso soup.

Instant miso soup comes in single-serving sachets containing dried wakame and tofu with miso paste that dissolves with the addition of hot water and can be bought in any supermarket.

Miso soup is usually served in red and black lacquer bowls.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands


Hakone Botanical Garden

The Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands (Hakone Shissei-en in Japanese), established in 1976, is one of the most enjoyable natural attractions in Sengoku, Hakone - but is closed during the winter months.

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

The Gardens are home to almost 1,800 species of plants found in Japan's wetland and alpine habitats. They strike a balance between meticulous presentation, with careful labeling of plants (including English) and habitat-based partitioning of plant types, and unspoiltness, with a layout that is as close to walking through nature, as is, without getting your feet wet.

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

The visitor pays the  admission at the entrance lodge, where he or she can view get an overview of the Garden layout and content, and view some exhibits - including a tiny darkhouse featuring mushrooms that glow green in the dark!

Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands

The rest of the Gardens consist of various gardens, and a series of large meandering boardwalks that takes the visitor comfortably and effortlessly through otherwise virtually inaccessible pristine marshy groves, overlooked by picturesque surrounding hills.

The Gardens' shop sells a selection of souvenirs, including seeds.


The Gardens are open daily from March 30 to November 30 every year. Hours: 9am-5pm daily. Admission: 700 yen for adults, 400 yen for school age. Free on weekends and public holidays for junior high school age and under.

Access to the Gardens is by the Hakone Tozan Bus route that starts at Hakone-Yumoto Station bound for Togendai. The bus stop is Sengoku Annaijomae, about 25 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto, and the well-signposted Gardens are about 8 minutes walk away.
Or, from Gora Station, the terminal station on the Hakone Tozan Railway, take a Hakone Tozan Bus to Hakone Shisseikaen-mae bus stop, about 20 minutes from Gora, right in front of the Gardens.

Guide to Hakone

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Goldengai By Night


Tokyo's Goldengai drinking area is located a short walk from Shinjuku Station's east exit.

Goldengai By Night Tokyo

Saved from destruction by the devotion of its committed patrons, Goldengai retains the atmosphere and architecture of 1960s Tokyo.

Goldengai By Night

A drinking haunt of artists and mavericks, author and fanatic Yukio Mishima is known to have socialized here.

Goldengai By Night Shinjuku Tokyo

Quirky, odd, ramshackled, bohemian and good fun. Enjoy these photographs of a Tokyo institution.

Goldengai By Night Shinjuku

© Guillaume Marcotte & JapanVisitor.com

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Brother Computer Solutions Osu Kannon

BCS ノートブック ショップ

Brother Computer Solutions in Osu Kannon, Nagoya is a new computer store in the Ameyoko Building 1.

The friendly and committed staff speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese and buy and sell new and used PCs.

Brother Computer Solutions Nagoya

BCS also offers general computer maintenance and repair including hardware cleaning, OS maintenance and upgrades, virus check and removal, upgrades for Windows XP, Windows Vista & Windows 7.

All notebooks have a 3 month guarantee, 1 month free support and online real time support.

Brother Computer Solutions Osu Kannon Nagoya

BCS Notebook Shop
Brother Computer Solutions
Ameyoko Building 1, 1F
Osu 3-30-86
Tel: 052 251 6226
Map of BCS

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Japan News This Week 24 October 2010


Japan News.Bodies, Mass Graves Found on Iwo Jima

New York Times

Car and Anime Cultures Collide in Japanese Trend Called Itasha

New York Times

Tokyo Story No. 4


Aussie golfer Wayne Perske arrested in Japan on cocaine charge

Washington Post

Shanghai Residents favor Japan


More anti-Japan protests in China

Japan Times

Toyota to recall over a million cars in US and Japan


Biodiversité : le Japon, un hôte à double face


Japan to send best possible team to Asian Cup

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

There have been 84 incidents of bears injuring people between April 1-September 30, 2010, two of them fatal. 2,366 bears have been caught and shot this year.

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, October 23, 2010

O2 Business Hotel

The tallest building in my neighborhood is the O2 (Oh-two) Business Hotel, though the kind of business going on inside this tower is not associated with paperwork, filing and data input.

O2 Business Hotel Nagoya

No O2 is an upmarket love hotel. This six-floor palace even has a large food menu on offer.

O2 Business Hotel

In an effort to whip up new custom the hotel is offering an autumn stamp rally drive, the more you come, the more you save!

Akaike Mochiguchi 153
Tel: 052 806 7200

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, October 22, 2010

Japan Newsletter October


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

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

Japan Newsletter

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

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Diwali in Yokohama

ディワリ 祭り 横浜

Diwali Festival in Yokohama

It's the season for the Indian Diwali festival, which I went to see celebrated in Yokohama last Saturday. Of any Japanese city, Yokohama has perhaps the most multicultural reputation, being the city of choice for a large number of different immigrant groups, most notably the Chinese.

The festival took place next to Yamashita Park, one of Yokohama's best known parks, on the waterfront and very near Chinatown.


The air was alive with the smells of spices and the sounds of music. There were stalls selling food, CDs, books, and advertising a variety of other goods and services. The stage throbbed with the vivid color and lissome movement of Indian dance, while at the other end of the grounds a lone dancer entertained a smaller crowd with his song and dance, accompanied by Japanese sitar, drum, and cymbal players.

Diwali in Yokohama

Local culture of a more idiosyncratic kind got a look in the form of an old man dressed more outlandishly than you could probably imagine, complete with goldfish bowl earrings complete with live goldfish! Asked what the significance of his get-up was, it was "To make the world better!"


By nightfall sticks of chicken that had been selling for 500 yen were down to 300, and 300 yen mango lassis down to 100. We walked the back through a now lit-up Chinatown to Ishikawacho station and took the train back to Tokyo.

Diwali in Yokohama

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Haneda Airport v Narita Airport

Haneda Airport v Narita Airport.

Fierce competition has broken out between the two airports serving the Tokyo metropolitan area: Haneda Airport and Narita Airport.

For a long time Narita, further out to the west of Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture was considered Tokyo's main international airport, while Haneda (Tokyo International Airport), much closer to central Tokyo in Tokyo Bay, was predominately a domestic hub.

Now things are changing. Haneda has opened a new 5-storey, 24-hour terminal extension and increased the number of its international and low cost flights to Asia and America with both scheduled and budget carriers to and from Tokyo.

Haneda now serves many international destinations with flights from JAL, ANA, Thai Airways, Eva Airways, Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines and American Airlines from its 4-runway airport.
Hanada can be accessed in as little as 13 minutes on Keihin Electric Express trains and Tokyo Monorail fm downtown Tokyo.

JTB travel agency is offering package tours to 22 overseas destinations from Haneda between October to January with connecting flights to Haneda costing only 1,000 yen per round trip.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine


Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Japan and is known for its thousands of closely-spaced vermillion torii gates that cover the slopes of Inariyama, so thick in places that they form long tunnels. It is estimated that there are well over 10,000 such torii gates.

Fushimi Inari Taisha dates from 711 and the main shrine building was built in 1499.

Inari shrines honor the patron deities of agriculture and business including Ukanomitama-no-Mikito (the goddess of rice and food), ensuring a constant stream of worshippers and the individual torii are donated by merchants and businesses hoping for successful trading. The prolonged downturn in the Japanese economy has not discouraged numerous firms looking for help from the spirits and many pay the large fees to sponsor a torii.

The shrine grounds are also a favorite route for local local joggers. For more sedentary visitors, soba noodles and beer are available near the summit of the hill.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Torii

There are many small concrete statues around the Fushimi Inari of (kitsune) - the fox messenger-animal of Inari.
Free Admission; Fushimi Inari station (Keihan Line) or JR Inari station from Kyoto station.
Map of Fushimi Inari

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daniel Kelly Exhibition


Daniel Kelly, the noted Kyoto-based woodblock print artist, is holding a tenth anniversary exhibition and book signing event at Daikanyama, Tokyo, October 22-24.

Daniel Kelly Exhibition

Kelly an American, has been in Japan since 1977, studying woodblock printmaking on his arrival for two years. His art works appear in the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Freer Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C.

Daniel Kelly
On the Brink of Catastrophe
Painting & Print Exhibition
Hillside Terrace Annex A, Daikanyama,
Hillside Terrace
Map of Hillside Terrace, Daikanyama

Plus performances by Heidi Durning, Ta-Ken & Duncan Hamilton

For more information on this intimate event in Kyoto visit http://www.danielkelly.net/

If you would like to advertise your Japan-themed or Japan-based event on JapanVisitor please contact us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Japan News this Week 17 October 2010


Japan News.As Japan Ages, Pop 'Idols' Aren't as Spry as They Used to Be

New York Times

Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline

New York Times

Japanese village kills dolphins but frees young


US pulls bid to host 2018 WCup to focus on 2022

Washington Post



Yawara-chan to retire from judo

Japan Times

In pictures: 30 years of Japanese fashion


Le premier ministre japonais demande la libération du prix Nobel de la paix


South Korea and Japan play out stalemate in Seoul

Yahoo Sports

Ethnic Identity, Culture, and Race: Japanese and Nikkei at Home and Abroad1

Japan Focus

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

90% of groping incidents are never reported. Nine out 10 women do not report incidents in which they have been groped on trains, according to a survey of 2,221 women in Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi, and Hyogo.

Source: Kyodo News

According to the World Economic Forum, Japan ranks 94th in gender equality out of a total of 134 countries.

The US ranked 19th.

Source: Asahi Shinbun 

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nagoya Congress Center

The Cop 10 conference on biodiversity is being held this month at the Nagoya Congress Center just south of Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

Nagoya Congress Center

Nagoya Congress Center is close to Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya Gakuin University and the beautiful strolling garden of Shirotori Park.

The nearest stations to the Nagoya Congress Center are Nishi Takakura and Jingu Nishi on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya Subway and Hibino Station on the Meiko Line.

A huge equestrian statue called the Sfoza Monument made in fiber glass from drawings by Leonardo da Vinci stands outside the main entrance of the Nagoya Congress Center.

Sforza Monument Leonardo's Horse, Nagoya, Aichi.

Nagoya Congress Center
1-1 Atsuta-nishimachi
Tel: +81 (0)52 683 7711
Fax: +81 (0)52 683 7777
Location of Nagoya Congress Center

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, October 15, 2010

Map of Tokyo


Use this map of Tokyo to navigate your way around the metropolis to foreign embassies, temples, shrines, hotels, shops, metro stations and Tokyo parks and gardens.

View Tokyo Map Japan in a larger map

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ten no Yu Super Sento


Unfortunately, this facility is now closed

Traditional Japanese bath houses or sento usually open around 4pm. If you fancy a soak before then, you will need to search out what is called a "super sento."


Larger and more up-market, drive-in super sento have replaced the smaller, family-run bath houses in places like Nagoya. Only really Kyoto among Japanese cities has a large number of smaller, more intimate sento.

A good example of a super sento is Ten no Yu up the hill to the left from the Ueda subway station on the Tsurumai Line. There is a spacious rotemburo (outside bath) and sun lounge for topping up the tan and Vitamin D level, two saunas, a massage parlor and jacuzzi.

Sento bath

An early morning soak and sauna is a great way to shake off any hangover and leave you feeling much happier about life.

Ten no Yu
Tenpaku-ku, Ueda 1-703
Tel: 052 807 1123
Admission 700 yen
Map of Ten no Yu

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Manaca Card マナカ


Nagoya is to launch the Manaca IC card for use on the city area's trains, buses, taxis and subways.

Similar to the Pasmo and Suica cards in use in Tokyo, the contactless IC transit card will first be valid on Nagoya's subway, bus network, Aonami Line and local Meitetsu trains and buses.


The pre-paid card will also be valid on Meitetsu taxis some time after its release on the public transportation system in Nagoya city in February 2011.


© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beware Japanese Bears

The Japanese kanji for bear (kuma) is a useful one to know if you are out hiking in the mountains at this time of year. The sign reads: kuma shutsubotsu chui (lit. "Beware of haunting bears" or a better translation may be "There are bears about.")

Beware bears!

Bear attacks are rare in Japan, but they do occur. In September last year, a black bear injured nine people at a highway rest stop in Nyukawa, a small village in northern Gifu Prefecture and caused havoc as it broke into a souvenir shop before it was shot dead by a registered hunter.

The Sankebetsu brown bear incident in Hokkaido in 1915 is Japan's worst bear attack in which a huge brown bear killed seven people over a period of time.

The following site www.davidbjack.com had information on Japanese brown bear attacks in Hokkaido, some of them fatal, and the author's close encounter with our furry friend on one of its "hauntings".

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Japan News this Week 10 October 2010


Japan News.Japan Uses Electronics for Minerals

New York Times

Japanese yen for smoking tested by 33% cigarette price rise


Japan minister apologizes for modeling inside Diet

Washington Post



Dolphins from Taiji sold to Egypt, Saudi Arabia

Japan Times

Japan stimulus to inject $60bn into flagging economy


BD Manga, en route pour l’aventure


Japan beat full-strength Argentina football team

Yahoo Sports

Rekindling China-Japan Conflict: The Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands Clash

Japan Focus

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Place of death:

1960: Home (70.7%), Hospital (18.2%), Other (11.1%)
2009: Home (12.4%), Hospital (78.4%), Other (9.2%)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Takeda Memorial International Marionette Museum

The peaceful town of Iida in Nagano Prefecture is known for its annual puppet festival and the Kawamoto Kihachiro Puppet Museum.

Marionette Museum Iida

The Takeda Memorial International Marionette Museum just outside Iida near Motozenkoji Temple is another must for fans of the art of puppeteering. Set in a beautiful garden, this modern museum presents a traditional puppet stage with a video explanation (in Japanese) as well as beautifully-crafted puppets from Japan and the rest of the world.

The Takeda name has long been associated with Japanese puppets since the 1660s.

Takeda Memorial International Marionette Museum
Zakoji 2535
Iida, Nagano
Nagano 395-0001
Tel: 0265 23 4222
Hours 9am-5pm; closed Mondays
The nearest station is Motozenkoji on the JR Iida Line.

Access: Iida can be reached by train from Nagoya via Toyohashi on the JR Iida Line (2 hours, 30 minutes). There are also highway buses from Tokyo (4 hours) and Nagoya (2 hours). By car, exit the Chuo Expressway at the Iida interchange.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tsukemono Japanese Pickles

つけもの (漬物)

Japanese pickles known as tsuke-mono are one of my favorite Japanese foods and completely vegetarian to boot.


Japanese pickles are not usually pickled in vinegar but in salt, soy sauce or sometimes sake lees.

Tsukemono are eaten as a side dish with rice at a traditional Japanese meal - either breakfast or dinner but also turn up with Japanese curries.

Japanese pickles

Favorite vegetables that are pickled in Japan include daikon radish, turnip, umeboshi, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, shibazuke (rape blossoms), eggplant and ginger.

Kyoto tsukemono (kyotsukemono) is particularly well known and many Japanese tourists take home pickles from any trip to the ancient capital. The wooden pickling barrels can be seen in the area near Kamigamo Shrine, which has a long tradition of tsukemono production.

Japanese pickles

Full of vitamin C and fiber, though heavy on the salt, tsukemono are a healthy addition to your diet.

Shogoin kabura turnip pickles.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Chawan Mushi


Chawan Mushi lit. "tea cup steamed" is an egg custard dish popular as part of a full course Japanese meal.

Chawan mushi

Eaten with a spoon from a ceramic bowl usually with a lid, chawan mushi is flavored with a mix of dashi, mirin and soy sauce and usually contains chicken, shrimp, shiitake or shimeji mushrooms, mitsuba and kamaboko, so the dish is not suitable for vegetarians.

Chawan mushi

In the pictures above, the kamaboko (fish paste) is colored and shaped as a maple leaf.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mizuko Jizo

Small mizu-ko statuettes are ubiquitous in Japanese temples. Literally "water child" the graves are those of stillborn, miscarried or aborted children.

Mizuko Jizo

The statues of mizuko Jizo are often clad in red bibs and hats, wrapped up against the cold like real babies. mizuko kuyo (水子供養) is the memorial service held annually for the child when offerings are made to Jizo, a Buddhist boddhisattva who protects children. Abortion in Japan has been legal since the Eugenic Protection Law of 1948.

Mizuko Jizo

Mizuko Jizo, Kyushu, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Addition to Kanji for Common Use


The Japanese Ministry of Education announced last week that the number of Kanji for Common Use is to increase by 196 characters.

In 1981, the list of characters Japanese school children were expected to master by the end of high school topped out at 1,945.

As of 2012, it will jump to 2,136.

Among the new kanji are:

熊(くま) bear
妖艶(ようえん)fascinating, bewitching
瑠璃(るり)lapis lazuli

All of the kanji on the Ministry's list may appear on university entrance exams, and the additional 196 may be added to the exams beginning in 2015.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, October 04, 2010

Cop 10 Nagoya

Cop 10
いのちの共生を、未来へ (Life in Harmony, into the Future)

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) will be held in Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture from 18 to 29 October 2010. The conference on Biological Diversity will take place at Nagoya Congress Center near Kanayama, with delegates attending from all over the world.

The nearest subway stations to the Nagoya Congress Center are Hibino on the Meiko Line (Exit 1) and Nishi-Takakura on the Meijo Line (Exit 2).

Nagoya Congress Center
1-1 Atsuta-nishimachi
Nagoya 456-0036
Tel: +81 (0)52 683 7711

Cop 10 Nagoya sign

Convention on Biological Diversity website

© JapanVisitor.com

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