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Monday, January 31, 2011

Cafe Fugetsu Green Tea Cheesecake

Green Tea Cheesecakeカフェ富月京都

Tucked on a side street of Kyoto's Gion is Cafe Fugetsu.

It is housed in a building that was formerly a tea house.

Fugetsu is off of the main drag of Hanamikoji Dori, so is a bit quieter and less thronged with tourists.

Once inside, though, and you are entering a different world.

It specializes in green tea and tofu cafes and beverages.


From Minami-za Theater, walk towards Yasaka Shrine on Shijo Dori. At Hanamikoji, turn right and head into the main area of Gion. At the fourth corner on the left, turn left (east). Cafe Fugetsu is on the right side of the street.

Tel: 075 561 5937

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Japan News This Week 30 January 2011


Japan News.In Japan, Young Face Generational Roadblocks

New York Times

Japanese Volcano Erupting


Japan's 'convict' monkey stages daring cage break


Japanese pensioners' shoplifting hits record high


Japan's credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor's


High court sides with Tokyo on anthem

Japan Times

El carguero japonés llega a la Estación Espacial Internacional

El Pais



The Tokyo Air Raids in the Words of Those Who Survived, 被災者が語る東京空襲

Japan Focus

Japan downplay Kagawa absence in Asian Cup

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


In the week ending January 16, clinics around Japan saw 780,000 flu cases.

Source: Kyodo News

To date, forty-five people have died as a result of snow this winter. 27 of those died as a result of accidents while clearing snow.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

Foreign visitors to Japan topped out at 8.61million in 2010. By nationality, South Koreans finished on top. 53.8% of the tourists were from Korea. In second place was China, at 40.5%.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ueda Station Nagoya


Ueda Station is three stops west of Akaike Station on the Tsurumai Line of Nagoya subway.

Ueda Station Nagoya

The area around the station includes a 24-hour supermarket, a sushi restaurant, branches of the Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo-Mitsui banks, and a number of bars, cafes and izakaya.

Ueda Station Nagoya Aichi

Ueda Station has full wheelchair access and a charged bicycle parking lot. Just up the hill behind the station is the super sento Ten no Yu (now closed). Ueda Station opened in 1978.

Buses from Ueda run to Shiogamaguchi, Kitaotsubo, Nonami, Tenpaku Post Office, and Hoshigaoka.

Ueda Station Nagoya Aichi
Ueda Station, Nagoya
© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, January 28, 2011

Arashiyama Monkey Park

Monkey Park Kyoto嵐山モンキーパーク

Iwatayama Monkey Park - in Japanese, "Arashiyama Monkey Park" - is a theme park-like facility in Arashiyama.

The park is a climb up Mt Arashiyama, which overlooks the river that flows through the a heavily wooded and touristed area in western Kyoto City. There are about 170 Japanese macaque monkeys that live there. The monkeys are indeed wild - and caution should be exercised - but can be fed food purchased at the site.

To get there, cross the Togetsudo Bridge from the main area of Arashiyama. Once across the Katsura/Oi River, you turn right and walk with the forest on your left and a canal on your right.

The entrance is up a few steps heading to a shrine and to the left.

Once you pay for your ticket, you will need to hike up for about 15 minutes. Signs will guide you.

Small children should be held or watched closely on the walk up lest they fall over the edge.

When you enter the area in which the monkeys live, a few basic safety precautions are necessary:

1) Don't stare the monkeys in the eye (this is an act of aggression)
2) Don't touch the monkeys
3) Don't feed them outside the area noted on the signs

Rangers are there to guide and help you. Bags of feed can be purchased inside the main building.

Open 9 am - 5 pm every day
Tel: 872-0950
Adults: 550 yen; High School and older 250 yen

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, January 27, 2011

English Factory Hirado


The English factory operated by the East India Company in Hirado, an island off the west coast of Kyushu, was short-lived, lasting only for ten years from 1613-1623.

English Factory Hirado Sign

Competition and eventual conflict with the Dutch, who had also set up a rival trading station on Hirado, lead to the English giving up on Japan and concentrating on their colonies in India and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).

Established in 1613 with the help of William Adams (1564-1620), Richard Cocks was appointed as the factory's first chief merchant what would now be the CEO.

The idea behind the venture was to sell woolen cloth from England in Japan and to trade Japanese products with Siam (present-day Thailand).


The first English ship to arrive in Japan was The Clove in 1613 and English merchants visited Nagasaki, Edo, Osaka, and Tsushima in an effort to promote their East Asian trade.

Adams and Cocks failed to get on, as Cocks criticized Adams for his adoption of a Japanese lifestyle, including wearing Japanese clothes and taking a Japanese wife.

English Factory Sign, Hirado
The English Factory, Hirado

The factory was eventually closed in 1623. The English made further attempts to resurrect their position after the Dutch had successfully established themselves on Dejima in Nagasaki.

One account tells of an English ship arriving from Ceylon with an elephant as a present for the shogun. The request was rejected by the Tokugawa regime and one wonders what became of the poor elephant. Was it thrown overboard, killed and eaten by the crew or taken on the long journey back to Colombo?

Other things to see on or near Hirado Island include Tabira Church, and the Matsuura Historical Museum.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Buke-yashiki Shimabara


The Buke-yashiki district of lower and middle samurai houses in the Teppo-cho area of Shimabara in Nagasaki Prefecture is a short walk north west of Shimabara Castle.

Buke-yashiki Shimabara Kyushu

A small spring water canal, that served for the daily water needs of the houses, runs down the center of the street. A number of the wooden samurai residences and gardens have been preserved here including the Torita, Shinozuka and Yamamoto homes.

Buke-yashiki Shimabara

The homes are unoccupied and are free to enter. Some of the tatami-floored rooms have mannequins in period dress recreating scenes from samurai life.

Buke-yashiki Shimabara, Kyushu

The properties measure about 300 square meters and were occupied by mid-ranking samurai who served as clerks and administrators to the feudal lord (Matsudaira) and received a stipend of between 7 and 17 koku of rice a year, depending on their rank. Each property was planted with loquat, persimmon and orange trees to provide the family with fresh fruit.

The high, stone walls for defense are a feature of the houses.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Japanese Rivers

The vast majority of rivers and streams in Japan have had their banks concreted as a flood control measure, rendering many of them little more than glorified drains in large urban areas.

The beautiful Kamo River, which flows through Kyoto and inspired Japanese haiku poets and painters in times gone past, still has an illegal yakuza-run incinerator in its upper reaches despite a decades-long citizens' protest to shut it down.

Japanese River

Despite this, and the amount of household garbage that is routinely thrown into them, Japanese rivers and streams provide viable eco-systems for a remarkable number of fish, birds, frogs, turtles and insects to survive and indeed thrive in adversity in some areas.

Japanese Rivers

The Shinano River in Nagano and Niigata Prefectures is Japan's longest river at 367km. The Go River in Shimane is one of the few that has not been overly-concreted along its banks.

Japanese River in Shimane
Gonokawa, Shimane
© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sokenji Temple


Sokenji Temple, in Shiga Prefecture, was incorporated into Oda Nobunaga's grandiose Azuchi Castle, and actually pre-dated the castle, which was completed in 1579.

Sokenji Temple Shiga

Located near the shores of Lake Biwa, the original three-storey pagoda was built in 1554 and is believed to have been moved from Chojuji Temple in Koga (甲賀, Koka) to its present location.

Sokenji Temple escaped the fires that ravaged and destroyed Azuchi Castle in 1582. After Nobunaga's death at Honnoji Temple in Kyoto at the hands of the traitor Akechi Mitsuhide, his second son Nobukatsu clashed with Akechi's retainers and during the subsequent skirmish between the two sides the great seven-storey tenshu (keep) of Azuchi Castle was burnt to the ground.

Sokenji Temple, Shiga Prefecture

The temple belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism and is a 30-minute walk from Azuchi Station on the JR Biwako Line.

There is also a Sokenji Temple in Nagoya city in Osu Kannon.

Map of Sokenji Temple at Azuchi Castle

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan temple
Azuchi Castle
Oda Nobunaga
Japanese History

Sunday, January 23, 2011

BBC comedy quiz show QI draws complaint from Japanese embassy


The following video from the BBC comedy quiz show QI, hosted by Stephen Fry, drew an official complaint from the Japanese Embassy in London and an equally quick apology from the BBC.

Fry portrayed Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a survivor of both nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during WWII, as the "unluckiest man in the world."

Yamaguchi, who died aged 93 last year of stomach cancer, was badly burned by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima while on business in the port city, but managed to take a train to his hometown of Nagasaki, where he experienced the second bomb to be dropped on Japan by American forces.

It is supposed that around 100 people were subject to the same "double bombing" experience at the time.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan News This Week 23 January 2011


Japan News.New Japanese Fashion: LED Lights for Your Teeth

New York Times

How retirement is being reinvented worldwide

Christian Science Monitor

Life inside the happiest company in Japan


Proposed sale of Japanese land for Chinese consulate stokes anti-Chinese views

Washington Post

Expert board game players utilise specific brain areas


Toylet video games help Japanese men aim straight


Host-nation deal inked, not 'sympathy budget'

Japan Times

China deja atrás a Japón como segunda economía mundial al crecer un 10,3%

El Pais



New Year 2011, Okinawa and the Future of East Asia

Japan Focus

Japan beats Qatar, Uzbekistan sees off Jordan

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


More than half of Japanese are somewhat optimistic about the future of the country. According to a survey released by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, 51.6% said Japan would be "much better" or "somewhat better" in 30 years.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

There were 5,616 more test takers for the annual college examination known as the "Center Shiken." That is in spite of a decline in the overall population of young people.

Source: Nikkan Sports

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Niijima Island


Niijima, 160km south of Tokyo, is part of the Izu Islands (Izu-shoto) which also include Oshima, Toshima, Kozushima and Shikine-jima. The outer group of islands includes Hachijojima, Mikurajima and Mitakejima. The islands are actually part of Tokyo!

Niijima was a place of exile in the Edo Period (1603-1868) but is now a popular surfer's paradise in summer, though largely deserted of visitors at other times.

Habushi-ura is the best surfing, windsurfing and swimming beach on the island - over 6km of fine white sand and good waves. Maehama is a smaller beach on the other side of the island.

If you come outside the surfing season, hire a bicycle and enjoy the peace and tranquility the island offers after Tokyo. Things worth seeing include the hot-springs at Yunohama Onsen and Mamashita Onsen and the the Niijima Modern Glass Art Center (Tel: 04992 55140), where you can see glass-blowers at work.

Moyai Hill, which overlooks the two main beaches contains Niijima Stone Zoo, with over 100 stone sculptures. The Moyai statue, a popular meeting place near Shibuya Station in Tokyo, is a gift from Niijima.

The Niijima Museum, which tells the history of the island, also has an interesting display of surfboards on show. Choeiji Temple dates from the 13th century and includes the graves of political prisoners sent to the island in past times.

Basho, the famous haiku master visited Niijima in 1698 by wooden boat, while modern visitors can now fly to the tiny airport on Niijima from Chofu Airport or to Oshima from Haneda Airport.

Most people arrive, however, on the overnight ferry from Takeshiba Sanbashi Pier near the north exit of Hamamatsucho Station (8 hours, 45 minutes) or on high-speed hydrofoils from the same port.

The overnight ferry visits the other islands in the inner group of the Izu Islands in a loop before returning to Tokyo: travel times are Oshima (6 hours, 15 mins), Toshima (7 hours), Shikine-jima (9 hours, 15 mins) and Kozushima (10 hours, 15 mins).

The colorful jet boats, also operated by Tokai Kisen (Tel: 03 5472 9999) are much quicker but more expensive. Times to the islands are as follows: Oshima (1 hour, 45 mins), Toshima (2 hours, 15 mins), Niijima (2 hours, 50 mins), Shikine-jima (3 hours, 10 mins) and Kozushima (3 hours, 40 mins).

Shinshin Kisen (a subsidiary owned by Tokai Kisen) runs ferries from Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula to Niijima (4 hours) and other Izu islands. There is also a local boat connecting Niijima with Shikine-jima.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sushi shop man yells at Tokyo commuters


Japan has a strong macho tradition that involves lots of shouting, back slapping, and posturing. It was on unique display the other morning at my local railway station, Asakusabashi, in Tokyo, on the JR Sobu line. At the bottom of the stairs onto the street, a middle aged employee (perhaps the owner) of a local sushi shop was accosting commuters with guttural ecries of encouragement, clenched "go-for-it" fists, and the occasional back slap. Check out the YouTube video, taken on my iPhone.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Monkeys of Japan


The Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani Yaenkoen in Nagano Prefecture have now achieved world fame as the monkeys who love to take a hot bath in winter. Featured in documentaries by David Attenborough and on the cover of Life Magazine, these bathing apes must be the most photographed monkeys on the planet.

The troupe of Japanese Macaques, who frequent the hot spring (onsen) in Jigokudani Yaenkoen, in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan, began visiting the pools sometime in the 1960s, possibly after observing humans doing the same thing...and liking it.

Snow Monkeys

Such is the fame and expectation of these daily simian ablutions, food is now placed around and in the pools to satisfy the hundreds of camera and video-toting visitors who come to see the macaques bathe and play.

Snow Monkeys Japan

Winter is best time to see the macaques when their enjoyment and sense of fun in the hot water is tangible. Then their coats, where they are exposed, are frosted, even coated with snow, yet they look so warm and content (until, that is, they walk off to the forest again).

Japanese Snow Monkeys

Despite the pampered treatment of the Japanese Macaques at Jigokudani Yaenkoen for the 1000s of snap-happy tourists who visit each year, over a 100,000 of these monkeys are killed each year in Japan, classified as pests, for their pilfering of farmers' harvests.

Snow Monkeys Nagano



From Tokyo Station, take the JR Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano Station. Change to the Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka (40 minutes by express or 1 hour by local train). From Yudanaka, catch a local bus (15 minutes) or take a taxi to Kanbayashi Onsen. From here it's a 20-30 minute walk to Jigokudani Yaenkoen (Entrance 500 yen).
If you wish to stay overnight or for longer in the area, the three star Jigokudani Korakukan is right at the onsen.

© JapanVisitor.com & Mark Brazil

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thomas Glover


Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911) was one of the most influential of the western foreigners who settled in Japan during the Bakumatsu Period of Japanese history - the final years of the Tokugawa Shogunate from the arrival of Commodore Perry in Shimoda in the 1850s to the fall of the Tokugawa regime in 1868.

Puccini statue in Glover Garden

Like many young men of his era out East at the time, the young Scot arrived in Nagasaki from Shanghai in 1859 in the employ of Jardine Matheson, primarily as a trader in green tea.

Glover set up his own company two years later and sensing the way the political winds were blowing, Glover's first big trades were in modern Western rifles, ammunition and ships, sold to the rebellious domains of Choshu (Yamaguchi Prefecture), Satsuma (Kagoshima) and Tosu (Kochi).

Thomas Glover House

With the proceeds from arms-trading Glover was able to build the first western-style house in Japan, the present-day Glover Garden overlooking Nagasaki Bay.

Glover played on a big stage and his achievements are legion. He was instrumental in helping the "Choshu Five" (future Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi, Inoue Kaoru, Endo Kinsuke, Yamao Yozo and Inoue Masaru) leave Japan on Jardine Matheson ships, first for Shanghai and then London, breaking the Tokugawa-erected "sakoku" barrier, which forbade Japanese people from leaving the country on pain of death.

After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Glover was in the good books of the new government and even though his first investments in shipbuilding led to his bankruptcy in 1870, he stayed on in Japan to make his fortune in shipping, brewing (he played a part in what was to become Kirin Beer) and mining.

For his considerable part in the modernization and industrialization of Japan, Glover was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (second class) from the Meiji government.

Glover died at home in Tokyo near present-day Shiba Koen near Tokyo Tower, and is buried at the Sakamoto International Cemetery in Nagasaki.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christmas & New Year Lights in Japan


The last decade in Japan has seen the country wholeheartedly embrace Christmas with all that entails: pizza delivery boys and massage parlor girls in Santa suits, Christmas cakes in bakeries and, of course, Christmas illuminations.

Christmas Lights in Tokyo Japan

Most major railway stations now have elaborate illuminations as do many local parks, restaurants and bars. A growing number of private houses also sprout fairy lights as Yuletide in Japan approaches.

Christmas Lights in Tokyo

Among the recommended illuminations in Japan are Shinjuku Terrace, Caretta Shiodome, Ebisu Garden Place, Ginza, Marunouchi, Roppongi Hills, Tama City and Tokyo Midtown all in Tokyo, Nagoya Station, Odori Park in Sapporo, Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki, Gotemba Tokinosumika in Shizuoka, Hiroshima, Saitama Super Arena, Queen's Square in Yokohama, Kobe Canal Garden in Kobe Harborland, the Nakanoshima area in Osaka, and Nagashima Spaland in Mie near Kuwana.

Xmas in Japan

© Guillaume Marcotte & JapanVisitor.com

Monday, January 17, 2011

Old Fashioned Pachinko Kinosaki

Old time pachinko Kinosaki, Kyoto Prefecture.昭和時代パチンコ城崎

In the hot spring town of Kinosaki, not far from the coast of the Sea of Japan in Hyogo Prefecture, there is more to see and do than just bathe.

The main attraction of the town - 2 plus hours from Kyoto or Osaka by rail - is its "sotoyu" (literally "out baths"), the seven public baths that are all within walking distance of the main street, which parallels a quaint canal.

When you stay at inns in the town, you will be given an electronic tag that you can use to enter any of these baths for free.

The second attraction is crab. In winter, the town is thronged with visitors in search of Sea of Japan crab.

Last would be the overall retro vibe of the town. Many ordinary buildings have eluded the wrecking ball, and among them are many shops and arcades that feature retro goods.

One we visited had old-time pachinko (pinball) machines.


From Kyoto Station, express trains take two and a half hours and cost 4,510 yen; from Osaka, trains take 2 hours and forty-five minutes.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Japan News This Week 16 January 2011


Japan News.Facebook Wins Relatively Few Friends in Japan

New York Times

South Korea and Japan sail into territorial dispute

Christian Science Monitor

Patching up our alliance with Japan

Washington Post

'Comic book wrestler' leaves gifts for Japan's school children


Japanese marital surname law faces legal challenge


Young men, couples shunning sex

Japan Times

Una primera dama con agallas

El Pais



Capital Punishment without Capital Trials in Japan’s Lay Judge System

Japan Focus

Japan defeats Syria 2-1 in Asian Cup

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Of the 30 top-rated tv programs of 2010, one third were World Cup soccer matches, according to Video Research Ltd. Two-thirds were sports related, although none were baseball games.

Source: Daily Yomiuri

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year Sea Bream

New Year 2011おめで鯛

A traditional Japanese meal on January 1st usually consists of sea bream.

It is a succulent meaty white fish.

The fish itself is set out on a platter or plate, and after a toast of sake - each person takes three swigs of the alcohol (though children will do so with juice) -  the meal begins.

One of the reasons sea bream is mainstay of New Year's Day meals is linguistic.

Sea bream is called "tai" in Japanese. "Congratulations" in Japanese is "omedeto" - and can also be said "medetai." Thus, a New Year's greeting of "medetai" is a simple play on words.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, January 14, 2011

Map of Kobe


Use this map of Kobe to navigate to Kobe's attractions, shops, hotels, parks and museums including the historic Ijinkan homes of foreign residents, the huge IKEA store on Port Island, Arima Onsen, Kobe Port Tower, Kobe City Museum and the city's vibrant Chinatown.

View Kobe Map in a larger map

Kobe is one of Japan's largest ports and has a decidedly "western" feel as it was a former treaty port opened to foreigners in the late 19th century. The city has completely recovered from a devastating earthquake in 1995.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Haneda Airport Shopping


Many of the thousands of people flocking to the new Tokyo International Airport (more commonly known as Haneda Airport) terminal on the Tokyo monorail are not just travelers rushing to catch a flight to Asia or America but also shoppers and diners keen to visit the shops and restaurants which have opened in the new 5-storey building. In fact, sightseers and shoppers outnumber actual air passengers 2-1 at weekends and on public holidays causing severe congestion and long lines outside popular restaurants.

Haneda Airport

There are branches of Hello Kitty and the Ginza-based Hakuhinkan toy store, which has a huge toy car track, which really draws in the kids, as Haneda ups its competition with rival Narita Airport.

Haneda Airport

As at Chubu International Airport, some of the shops and restaurants are arranged in a faux Edo Period "market" (called Edo Koji) which is all the rage with Japanese airport terminal architects at the minute. So there is plenty of wood, slate tiles and traditional lanterns or chochin on display. Tokyo Pop Town is the name of the contemporary-designed shopping area.

Haneda's new terminal also has a large indoor Torii gate (see above).

Haneda Airport

The full list of stores and services includes such well-known outlets as Kaneko optics, Air Lawson convenience store, Character Shop Haikara, Edo Event-kan (souvenirs), Kaizosha book store, Rink (bags) and Itoya stationery.

There are ATMs, a branch of Mizuho bank, a clinic, numerous currency exchanges, a pharmacy, a police box (koban), nap and shower rooms, a PC station and wireless LAN.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kumamoto-Shimabara Ferry


The Japanese archipelago consists of 1000s of islands many of which have been connected by boat since time immemorial.

Kumamoto Ferry Port.

Unfortunately, ferry services are in decline especially long-distance ferry services as increasingly busy people choose air travel or the shinkansen bullet train.

Short distance ferries cannot be replaced by air or train travel however and ferry services are indispensable for the inhabitants of the islands of the Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku and for the many small islands off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan.

Kumamoto-Shimabara Ferry Kyushu

This ferry in the video makes the short crossing from Kumamoto to Shimabara and back in Kyushu. The crossing takes one hour on the cheaper, slower boat run by Kyusho Ferry (Tel: 096 329 6111) or 30 minutes on the more expensive quicker boat operated by Kumamoto Ferry (Tel: 0957 63 8008).

Kumamoto-Shimabara Ferry Kyushu Japan.

Popular ferry services still in operation include the Maibara to Otaru in Hokkaido ferry, the Osaka/Kobe ferry to Beppu, the Nagoya to Sendai and Tomakomai ferry, the jetfoil to Yakushima and the boat to the Oki Islands off the Japan Sea  coast.

Shimabara Port, Kumamoto-Shimabara Ferry.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where is Kabukicho in Tokyo?


We are often asked "where is Kabukicho in Tokyo?"

Here is the answer:

Go out the east exit of Shinjuku Station and look across Shinjuku-dori Street for the big screen of the Alta Studio Building.

Cross over and go down the street just to the left of the Alta Studio. It will take you to Yasukuni-dori Street, the street running parallel with Shinjuku-dori Street. Keep going straight across Yasukuni-dori Street and you'll find yourself in Kabukicho.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan Sleaze

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seijin no Hi


Today, the second Monday in January, is a national holiday in Japan - seijin-no-hi or Adult's Day or Coming of Age Day.

Seijin no Hi

Coming of Age ceremonies are held in public halls all over the country for young 20-year-olds reaching adulthood, legally enabling them to marry without their parents' consent, drive, gamble, smoke, drink and other freedoms.

Young Japanese women parade in their finest hired kimono, sporting elaborate nail art manicures and feather boas to ward off the season's chill.

Men don western suits or occasionally traditional Japanese hakama and haori.

Seijin no Hi

Izakaya pubs, clubs, Love Hotels and restaurants are fully-booked as a new mass of neoteric adults celebrate their new-found freedom to party....legally.

© Guillaume Marcotte & JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Japan News This Week 9 January 2011


Japan News.Toyota Aims to Remain King of the Hybrids

New York Times

Japan's population ages: Will it put its elderly back to work?

Christian Science Monitor

Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor

New York Times

Japan New Year tuna sale sets record of nearly $400,000


Japanese minimalism set to reshape fashion once again


Language teachers to go to U.S. for exchanges

Japan Times

Industria media entre Nissan y sindicatos para salvar el nuevo modelo

El Pais



From the Firing at Yeonpyeong Island to a Comprehensive Solution to the Problems of Division and War in Korea

Japan Focus

Japan's Kagawa wants to 'score like Messi'

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


"Do you have friends?"

Yes: 61%
No: 39%

Of those who answered "no," the most common reasons why were:

Financial trouble (from borrowing and/or lending with others)
Depend on myself
Others don't think of me as their friend
Too much trouble

Source: Asahi Shinbun survey

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Coin Lockers


A coin locker is one of those very "Japanese" mechanical items that seems to encapsulate something of the essence of everyday living in Japan, like vending machines and pachinko.

Coin Lockers in Japan

Coin lockers can be found at many large railway stations and some department stores. Ginza Mitsukoshi even has refrigerated lockers to keep your groceries fresh.

As well as coins, many of the lockers found at Tokyo's stations can be paid for with a Suica or Pasmo card.

Ryu Murakami's novel Coin Locker Babies tells the story of two boys found abandoned by their mothers in coin lockers at a Tokyo station.

Coin Lockers

Coin lockers at Kyoto Station

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, January 07, 2011



Kamaboko is a type of fish-paste or fish puree made from the flesh of white fish such as pollock or hake, so the dish is not suitable for vegetarians.


Kamaboko is made into a kind of fish-loaf and slices can be found in udon (noodle) dishes, miso soup and chawan mushi.

Kamaboko makes a great side-dish with sake and a drizzle of soy sauce.

The kamaboko pictured is served with beet sauce, a first for me in Japan, in a British-style pub near Kanda Station.

Rubbery in texture, versions of kamaboko are also eaten in Korea and China.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, January 06, 2011

LCD Screen Vending Machines


Japan long ago lapped most of the world in vending machines commerce, seemingly by placing a machine on every street corner and taking an "if-you-can-imagine-it-a-couple hundred-yen-will-buy-it" approach with drinks, foods and some things not quite suitable to be bought from a machine.

LCD Screen Vending Machines

Not resting on its laurels, and with a high-tech image to uphold, the nation, with the highest number of vending machines per capita, has now rolled out machines where drinks are displayed on a large LCD screen which acts as a touchscreen for purchasing.

LCD Screen Vending Machines

The new machines were first rolled out in Shimbashi Station in Tokyo and have spread to Tokyo Station and to trendy hotspot Shibuya, which coincidentally was where a banana vending machine was first unveiled in 2010.

Vending Machines

© Jason Coskrey & JapanVisitor.com

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