Japan Visitor: What's happening in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Shimane Japan

Home    Japan Travel Guide     Tokyo Guide     Contact     Auction Service     Japan Shop

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Patterns by Jane Garnes - the inspiration of shape

絵柄 ジェーン・ガ-ンズ

Patterns Jane Garnes

Jane Garnes is an international photographer and artist resident in both the United States and France, and with a particular love of and fascination with Japan.

Jane Garnes recently published Patterns, a collection of 43 photographs taken in Japan: patterns being the theme of the photographs and by which they are organized.

A particular defining feature of this collection is the accompaniment of each photograph by a haiku penned by the photographer, inspired by the subject of the photograph.

Patterns is organized into three parts: symmetrical, repeating, and asymmetrical patterns. Most photographs are of a single subject, but the collection includes collages as well.

The subjects of the photographs are fairly evenly balanced between the natural and the manmade,  the latter being the artifacts, architecture, foodstuffs, and implements typical of Japanese culture. Only one human subject is included, but even then it is wearing a traditional mask.

Patterns thereby represents a very objective eye, and a very observant one that approaches its subject with precision and measure. The thematic focus, though, is on the abstract notions of pattern and symmetry, giving the collection something of a contemplative mood.

Yet the abstract, as reflected in Patterns, does not mean arcane. There is pathos and even whimsy here, portrayed in a rich panoply of colors from gorgeous to subtle. There is the vermilion splendor of intricate corner rafters of a Japanese temple, the whimsical juxtaposition of the logo designs of different brands of piled up sake barrels, the grotesque convolutions of octopus tentacles, the lonesomeness of an old wooden pail on its side, and the desperation, however lovable, of gaping chicks waiting for their mother to return.

Patterns is a very polished visual take on Japan that will appeal to anyone with a love of beauty. The kaleidoscope of images is cleverly held together by its eponymous theme, and the reader can turn to the haiku for the impressions and observations of the author in verse form to enhance or provide some background and added flavor to the visual experience.

Finally, Patterns was published some months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the photographs themselves taken at the very time of the disaster. All proceeds from the sale of Patterns go to the Riverside (Ca.) Sendai (Japan) Relief Fund.

Riverside has been a sister city of Sendai since 1951, and the Relief Fund was established in the wake of the Earthquake to assist in the recovery from the damage Sendai suffered from the March 2011 quake and tsunami and nuclear catastrophe.

Buy Patterns by Jane Garnes online

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Looking at Japan's Insects and Fish

A pleasure of visiting a faraway country is getting to see new and different things. This can range from the very big (i.e., castles) to the very small.

Looking at Japan's Insects and Fish

One day while visiting a castle ruin in Tsuwano I was looking closely at the plants and flowers, and I noticed several insects. At that moment a great revelation struck me: I recognize these bugs from "Animal Crossing!"

That little gem of a videogame by Nintendo was originally titled "Animal Forest" in Japan before it arrived on American shores in 2002. Part of the game involved catching bugs and fish, and I spent long hours with my net and fishing pole in a crazed, obsessive quest to catch them all. Over time I have played every incarnation of "Animal Crossing."

Looking at Japan's Insects and Fish

To my immense delight, I have come across various insect and spider species in our travels throughout Japan. Some of them I recognize from the game, while others come as a new and pleasant surprise. During my trip to Kyushu I came across a Blue Admiral Butterfly on the grounds of Kumamoto Castle.

When it comes to fish, the only ones we saw except for koi carp had been prepared for us as meals. Red snapper ("I caught a red snapper! Snappity, snap, snap!") tastes pretty good. And what do you think about sweetfish ("I caught a sweetfish! Deelish!")?

Japan's Insects and Fish

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tokyo Marathon 2012


Sunday 26 February was the day of the 2012 Tokyo Marathon.

I encountered the section of the Tokyo Marathon 2012 that went through Tokyo's Taito ward, just one train stop east of the Akihabara district which is famous for electronics and Japanese manga and nerd culture.

An estimated 35,000 people were running in the Tokyo Marathon today out of the 335,147 who applied (applicants are chosen by lot), 100 of whom are known as "elite" (i.e. serious/pro) runners, and 3,000 of whom were running for charity. The growth of the Marathon's popularity can be gauged by the fact that only 95,044 people applied in the first year of the Tokyo Marathon in 2007.

The course of the Tokyo Marathon 2012 was from Tokyo Tocho to Iidabashi to the Imperial Palace to Hibiya to Shinagawa to Ginza to Nihonbashi to Asakusa-inarimon to Tsukiji to Toyosu to Tokyo Big Sight (where the Tokyo Marathon Expo 2012 took place on 23-25 February).

The Tokyo Marathon 2012 consisted of a 10km course and the full course. It was open to all who were 19 years or over on the day, and those in wheelchairs got a five minute head start.

Participants in the full marathon had to pay to join: 10,000 yen for "in Japan," and overseas participants 12,000 yen (cheaper for the 10 km marathon): an apparent thumbing of the nose at internationalization.

As you can see from the above YouTube video, the Tokyo Marathon 2012 was as much a festival as a race, with no end of weird and wonderful costumes. Check out my favorite, the "salaryman on the commuter train" runner!

Read about the Tokyo Marathon 2011

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Japan News This Week 26 February 2012


Japan News.Chinese City Severs Ties After Japanese Mayor Denies Massacre

New York Times

Cruise finds Fukushima pollution


Fukushima manager dismisses fears that reactors are overheating again


Christchurch remembers quake dead

Japan Times

Inoue, maestro del manga se rinde a Gaudí

El Pais

Rencontre avec l'onnagata Bandô Tamasaburô sous le regard de Sarah Bernhardt

Rue 89



U.S. Vets Win Payouts Over Agent Orange Use on Okinawa

Japan Focus

Olympic hopefuls Japan thrash Malaysia

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Last week, a defendant who was a minor at the time of his crime was found guilty and sentenced to death in Yamaguchi, Japan. (The man is now 30 years old, but was 18 at the time of the murders.)

When the sentence is carried out, probably some time later this year, Japan will join the following countries that execute minors. The number in parentheses is the number executed, the date the last year an execution of a convicted minor took place:

Iran (51), 2011
USA (19) 2003
Saudi Arabia (5), 2009
Pakistan (4), 2006
China (2), 2004
Sudan (2), 2005
Yemen (2), 2007
Nigeria (1), 1997
Congo (1), 2000

Source: Amnesty International

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bicycle Parking in Tokyo


Bicycle Parking in Tokyo

Like people all over Japan, there are a lot of people cycling in Tokyo. Most Tokyo cyclists are riders of what is colloquially called the mama-chari, or "mom bike": the plain jane descendant of the original safety bike. These very often have a child seat on the back, front or both front and back, and increasingly incorporate a small auxiliary electric engine.

Bicycle riders in Japan should, legally, ride on the road, but road riders tend to be those with faster, leaner bikes with ten or more gears, or fixed gear racing bikes. Most Tokyo cyclists ride on the sidewalk, and somehow manage to usually make it through even quite densely populated sidewalks without collision.

An ongoing bone of contention between local authorities and shopkeepers on the one hand, and cyclists on the other, in Tokyo is bicycle parking. Official pay-for bicycle parking spaces are few and far between, giving cyclists who are typically shoppers no option but to park their bike on the sidewalk. This sometimes results in notices being pinned to bikes stating that the bike will be removed and disposed of by a certain date. In many cases it it resolved by direct action by the aggrieved tenant of the property the bike is parked in front of by moving it somewhere else - often purposely remote - or, if it is locked to a railing, even by vandalizing it, e.g. slashing the tires.

The problem of bicycle parking in Tokyo has started to be addressed anew recently, it seems. There has been a noticeable increase in recent months in the number of coin-operated bicycle parks, which removes the excuse of absence of facilities able to be appealed to by parking transgressors, and, hopefully, will become a source of revenue for the construction of further such facilities.

Books Reviews on Tokyo Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 24, 2012

Disco Corp


Disco Corp Tokyo

The Disco Corp's motto is "Always the best, Always fun." Its website talks about "sapphires," "grinding," "crystal," "lasers," "silicon," even "diamonds" - pretty familiar topics for those infected with the Saturday night fever. It even goes as far as the quite out-of-this-world sounding topic of "water jets."

But, hey, what's up with the talk about "values" and "stakeholders," and those decidedly heavy metal pictures all over the place of great big serious-looking machines?

It turns out that Disco Corporation is about as far from glitter balls, clingy skirts and substances as you can get. Or you could just say they're more Village People than Donna Summer. Disco Corp is all about goggle-clad workers in overalls bent over screaming precision dicing/cutting saws, howling abrasive grinders and scintillating diamond blades/wheels.

Disco Tokyo

According to its website, Disco Corp. began in 1937 as Dai-ichi Seitosho Co., Ltd. in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture as a manufacturer of abrasive wheels. It was as part of its international expansion that the company adopted the name Disco with the establishment in the USA of Disco Abrasive Systems Ltd. in 1969 - actually predating the age of small-d disco - followed by the change of the Japan headquarters' name to Disco in 1977, when the charts were dominated by the likes of Abba's Dancing Queen, Rose Royce's Car Wash, and Donna Summer's I Feel Love. Or was it maybe James Taylor's Handy Man that clinched it?

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sogenji Temple Takayama


Sogenji Temple in Takayama in Gifu Prefecture is a pleasant Soto Zen sect temple noted for its large bell.

Sogenji Temple Takayama

The main hall of Sogenji was originally located in what are now the ruins of Takayama Castle and was relocated to become the hondo or main hall of this family temple of Nagachika Kanamori (1524-1608), the man considered the prime mover behind the development of the historic city of Takayama and its tradition of arts and crafts.

The Kanamori clan were the feudal lords of the Hida area until 1692, when the Tokugawa regime took over direct control of the area to exploit its forests and other resources.

Sogenji Temple Bell, Takayama

Tenshojimachi 39
Tel: 0577 32 2519
Hours: 9am-5pm
15 minutes on foot from Takayama Station

Sogenji Temple in snow

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hori Art Museum Nagoya


The Hori Art Museum in Nagoya is on the "Cultural Path" route and is close to the Futaba Museum, the former house of actress Sadayakko Kawakami and industrialist Momosuke Fukuzawa.

The Hori Art Museum displays both western style and Japanese style 20th century art by Japanese artists. The Hori Art Museum has works by among others Migishi Setsuko (1905-1999), Fujita Tsuguharu (1886-1968), Oka Shikanosuke (1898-1978), Umemura Shoko (1902-2000), Kondo Koichiro (1884-1962) and Umehara Yuzaburo (1888-1986).

The Hori Art Museum has a modern, spacious interior which sets off the works of art well.

Hori Art Museum
4-4-2, Chikaramachi
Tel: 052 979 5717
Hours: 12.30pm-5pm; closed Monday
Admision 1,000 yen

The nearest subway station is Takaoka on the Sakuradori Line. Visitors can get a reduction of 200 yen on admission with a Do-Nichi Eco-Kippu travel card valid on Saturdays and Sundays (and the 8th of the month) on Nagoya's subway and costing only 600 yen.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Construction company collusion in Japan


Construction company collusion in Japan

I walked past the very stylish Supreme Court building in Hayabusa-cho, Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, on Monday. There were several TV camera crews waiting outside it, which prompted me to check the news. Sure enough, an important decision had just been passed down by the court.

Four big construction companies: Taisei Corporation, Tobishima Corporation, Okumura Corporation and Araigumi Co., Ltd. ("Big Four,") were originally convicted, along with 30 other companies, of collusive bidding (called dango in Japanese) by the Japan Fair Trade Commission in 2008. The collusion was over a public works project between 1997 and 2000 commissioned by the Tokyo New Town Development Corporation for sewage and drainage work.

The fine imposed on the 30 companies was 600 million yen (about USD7.5 million), and 100 million yen (about USD1.25 million) on the Big Four. By no means big bucks for players of this size, but naturally they appealed.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which today - 15 years after the fact - passed its judgment: that Taisei, Tobishima, Okumura and Araigumi were guilty of collusion.

Construction company collusion in Japan

Collusive bidding for public works projects is very common in Japan and costs the Japanese taxpayer enormous sums of money, considering the gigantic amounts involved in the public works commissioned every year.

The Supreme Court in Japan might better be called the Supine Court considering, at least, how few laws passed by the Japanese Diet it has overturned as being unconstitutional, so any decision it comes to that actually has teeth is big news.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flying to Japan from LAX

We always fly out of LAX in Southern California when we come to Japan. Because of specific traveling plans we have taken several different airlines. These include Korean Air, Singapore, United, JAL, and ANA. Ah yes, we have to fly in Economy.

LAX, California

The flight generally takes 11 hours. If you have a choice of airlines, I recommend that you look at passenger reviews before you make your reservations. I wish I had done that when we flew JAL. Too late I read that passengers from LAX noted that the cabin temperature was very warm and uncomfortable. This turned out to be an accurate assessment. It was so hot I thought for a while I was going to be sick. It is way too long of a flight to spend in such discomfort. For the return trip I outfitted myself in shorts and a t-shirt, brought along a Durarara! fan I bought in Nagoya, and I carried a full bottle of water.

When we returned to the USA I contacted JAL by email and was told that the temperature in the cabin is 24 degrees Celsius. But when we took our October trip on ANA, I noticed the air temperature on their plane was set at 24.5 and it felt fine, even a bit cool. So JAL, could you please explain this?

We have taken flights that left during the afternoon in the USA and arrived the following evening in Japan; however, for our most recent trip we flew the red-eye and departed LAX at 12:50 am. We landed in Japan at 5:00 am and took a connecting flight to Shikoku. We saw the sun come up upon disembarking in Matsuyama. It was great! We had rested on the plane and now we were ready to go explore. For our next trip we have booked another red-eye flight.

The airports in Japan have been amazing. We have been both awed and impressed by the high degree of customer service and the amenities available to travelers. I am embarrassed to say that LAX Customs personnel are not always very nice, but in Japan the airport employees have consistently been courteous, helpful, and kind. What a great first impression for the foreign visitor!

Books on Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Japan News This Week 19 February 2012


Japan News.Japan Ignored Nuclear Risks, Official Says

New York Times

Japan's Emperor Akihito set for heart surgery


Former Olympus chairman arrested as scandal deepens


Panel OKs lower cesium limit for food

Japan Times

Una panadería: Levain (Ueda, Japón)

El Pais

Fukushima : voici venu le temps de l'imposture scientifique

Rue 89



21st-Century Yakuza: Recent Trends in Organized Crime in Japan ~ Part 2 21世紀のやくざ ―― 日本における組織犯罪の最近動向

Japan Focus

Dortmund’s Japan star Kagawa suffers ankle injury

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Child pornography cases in Japan hit a record in 2011.

Police found 1,455 cases of pornography involving minors. That is up 8.4% from the previous year, and a new record.

Police started compiling records in 2000

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Booking.com

Happi Coats

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nagoya City Archives


Nagoya City Archives not far from Nagoya Castle and Nagoya City Hall is the former Nagoya Court of Appeals. The western-style brick and white granite building is now home to Nagoya's archives and includes an interesting free museum on the history of the building and the city of Nagoya. To reflect the building's previous function as a law court, courtrooms from the time of the Meiji Period and the present day are reproduced using mannequins.

Nagoya City Archives

Nagoya City Archives is on the so-called Cultural Path which runs from Nagoya Castle to Tokugawa Art Gallery and Tokugawa-en. Other places to see on the Cultural Path include Nagoya City Hall, the Aichi Prefectural Building, the Chikaramachi Catholic Church, the Futaba Museum, the former house of actress Sadayakko Kawakami and Momosuke Fukuzawa, the former residence of Sasuke Toyoda, Kenchuji Temple, the residence of Tetsujiro Haruta and the Nagoya Ceramics Hall. The Cultural Path runs through an area once inhabited by the rich and powerful of Meiji and Taisho-era Nagoya including the Toyoda family who founded the present Toyota car company, artists and writers.

Nagoya City Archives, Aichi

Nagoya City Archives was built as the Nagoya Court of Appeals during the Taisho-era in 1922 and was used as such until 1979. Now the building is preserved as an "Important Cultural Property." There are a number of interesting panel displays, old photographs of the city and period furniture to see.

Nagoya City Archives


Nagoya City Archives
1-3, Shirakabe
Tel: 052 953 0051

8 minutes walk from Shiyakusho Station on the Meijo Line, take Exit #2 No.2 or 5 minutes from Higashiote Station on the Meitetsu Seto Line. Nagoya City Archives is also on the Nagoya Loop tourist bus route, get off at the City Archives stop.

Hours: 9.00am-5pm; closed Monday

Books on Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shrine of Twenty-Six Martyrs Nagasaki


In Nagasaki we visited the Shrine of the Twenty-six Martyrs and the adjoining museum. The museum has an extensive, detailed collection of historical artifacts related to the introduction of Christianity in Japan.

Shrine of Twenty-Six Martyrs in Nagasaki

The outdoor sculpture was created by Yasutake Funakoshi in 1962. It depicts the twenty-six men who were crucified by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi on February 5, 1597, at the hill Nishizaka.

We became interested in the historical roots of Christian evangelization in Japan after watching the 1992 Taiga Drama, "King of Zipangu," which chronicled the life of Oda Nobunaga.

The drama was narrated by a Jesuit priest named Father Luis Frois, who came to Japan from Portugal. Apparently Nobunaga didn't mind the presence of the Jesuits, but Hideyoshi felt otherwise.

Shrine of Twenty-Six Martyrs Nagasaki Kyushu

According to the television drama, there was supposed to be a statue of Father Luis Frois near the shrine, but all we could find was a plaque. Maybe a statue had been there once, but not anymore.

We did, however, get to meet some cute cats on the grounds, and we always appreciate that.


© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kusama Yayoi Exhibit Osaka

Yayoi Kusama草間弥生展覧会大阪

The National Museum of Art, Osaka, is now showing works by quirky artist Kusama Yayoi.

The show is entitled "Eternity of Eternal Eternity," and displays the most recent works of Kusama Yayoi. It runs through April 8.

Kusama began painting in her teens, spent more than a decade in New York, and now apparently lives in an insane asylum from which she walks every day to her studio. After painting for a day, she returns to the institution.

Her work is heavy on polka-dots and is playful and funny.

The National Museum of Art, Osaka, is close to Nakanoshima in central Osaka.


Opening Hours
10 am - 5 pm, Fridays until 7 pm

Admission until 30 minutes before closing; closed Mondays

Admission Fee
Adults: 1,400 Yen
University students: 1,000 Yen
High School students: 700 Yen

© JapanVisitor.com

Suggested Books on Tokyo Japan

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Premium Alcohol Free Beer


Another non-alcohol beer on the Japanese market is Premium Alcohol Free from Sapporo.

It's low on calories only 22 and also on price, costing only 138 yen at my local convenience store.

Sapporo Premium Alcohol Free Beer

Actually, this was probably the best of the zero alcohol beers I have been trying recently in terms of color, aroma and taste. The rather chemical aftertaste associated with other zeros on the market only came right at the end of the can and not as strongly as I had experienced before. I am not going to be dashing out and buying a six-pack of this anytime soon, but if you need a non-alcohol "beer" - this could be it.

Sapporo Premium Alcohol Free Beer

Recommended Guide Books on Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anpanman Store in Tokyo

アンパンマン ストアー

Anpanman Store Tokyo

Anpanman is Japan's red nosed, rosy cheeked, beaming, bald and beatific - oh, and edible - superhero of justice.

Anpan is an amalgam of the words an, meaning "bean paste," and pan, meaning "bread," (originally from the Portuguese pão), and is, as the name suggests, a bread dumpling stuffed with bean paste.

According to the Wikipedia entry, this avatar of Japanese snack food was born of wartime desperation, bred in the imagination of the now 93 year old Takashi Yanase, currently chairman of the Japan Cartoonists Association, when he was a hungry soldier in World War Two.

Fascinatingly, Anpanman's head is replaceable, and when his Uncle Jam bakes him a new one he gets a new lease on life, the sweet sticky brown matter filling his head being the only sustenance he needs.

Considering the massive popularity of Anpanman with pre-pubescents, the remoteness of Tokyo's only dedicated Anpanman shop from any commercial hub is a little odd. The Tokyo Anpanman Shop is in Shinjuku - one of Tokyo's busiest and most commercial wards - but quite a way from any of Shinjuku's main shopping areas.

Nevertheless, what it lacks in accessibility it makes up for in superabundance. This quite small store is chockablock from floor to ceiling with every possible Anpanman product available, from Anpanman stationery to Anpanman beach balls to Anpanman board games to Anpanman picture books to Anpanman baby bracelets to Anpanman postcards ... you are hereby challenged to imagine what Anpanman-related isn't stocked!

Anpanman is not alone in his adventures. Since the TV series began in 1988, there have been almost two thousand auxiliary characters added, most of them food-related.

Anpanman Shop
7 Funamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Google Map to the Tokyo Anpanman Shop
Tel. 03 3226 8180

Read about the Anpanman Museum

Anpanman Shop Website

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Japanese Historical Reenactors


I am very interested in Japanese history, and this includes castles and the men who built them.

Oftentimes when we visit a castle there are a group of reenactors who add a bit of local color and charm to the experience.

Japanese Historical Reenactors

We visited Kumamoto Castle in late October, and I was astounded by the size of the castle and the surroundings. Kato Kiyomasa must have been a formidable samurai. We met two of his "vassals," who gladly posed with us.

We also met the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. "Sir Miyamoto" happened to speak English, and we had a conversation with him.

Japanese Historical Reenactor and friend

It turned out he was from Van Nuys, California, and he had returned to Japan to care for his elderly parents. We had once lived within an hour's drive of each other, only to meet thousands of miles away on the lovely island of Kysuhu, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Japan News This Week 12 February 2011


Japan News.U.S. and Japan Are in Talks to Expedite Exit of 8,000 Marines on Okinawa

New York Times

Gilles Peterson in Japan


Rising temperatures at Fukushima raise questions over stability of nuclear plant


Antinuke petitioners to lobby assembly

Japan Times

“Queremos que España sea una potencia en creación de videojuegos”

El Pais

Fukushima : le refroidissement du réacteur 2 ne fonctionne pas

Rue 89



Henoko and the U.S. Military: A History of Dependence and Resistance

Japan Focus

Croatia, Japan draw even 1-1 in Davis Cup

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


Thirty-two percent of women living alone in Japan are in poverty.

In Japan, "poverty" is designated as those earning less than half of the median national income.

Those with less than 1.12 million yen ($14,424 USD) in disposable income are considered poor.

32% of women living alone between the ages of 20 and 64 fell into that category in 2010. For men, it was 25%.

Source: Kyodo News

According to Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the social cost of drinking alcohol is more than four trillion yen (5.1 billion US dollars) per year.

That figure includes: the cost of stroke, cancer, and injury victims; number of deaths; and wages lost.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Booking.com

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ainu Dress


The Ainu are the indigenous people of northern Japan, Hokkaido and parts of Russia, though few or no pure blood Ainu now remain.

The Ainu were only formally recognised as an indigenous group in 2008 after over 130 years of forced assimilation since the colonization of Hokkaido beginning in the early years of the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

Ainu Dress Sapporo

Traditional Ainu dress was a calf-length robe made from the soft bark of the elm tree, known as attusi or attush and tied at the waist with a sash. The geometric designs on the hems and straight sleeves are particularly beautiful.

Ainu Dress Sapporo Hokkaido

The methods of Ainu stitching still survive and you can buy Auni style bags and Aini headbands from our sister site GoodsFromJapan.com

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 10, 2012

Japanese language study - nukeru

日本語 抜ける

Japanese language study - nukeru

The Japanese word nukeru is frequently encountered, but tends also to be a word many learners of Japanese don’t become that familiar with.

In its principal dictionary defintion, nukeru means to fall out, escape, come loose, be omitted.
Toshi o toru to doji ni, kaminoke ga dandan nukete iku.
As I get older, I lose more and more hair.

Nanto, keiyaku wa menseki joko ga nuketerun da!
WFT? The contract is missing a waiver clause!

Sentaku suru koto ni yotte, iro ga nukeru.
It loses color with washing.

Ki ga nukeru literally means “to lose spirit,” but is used in the sense of being exhausted, feeling spent, or, in the case of beer and the like, to go flat, or lose fizz.

But nukeru is often found as a suffix to other verbs, with the meaning of “going through.”
For example:
iinukeru (“say” + nukeru) is to “explain away,” or “answer evasively.”
kakenukeru (“rush/dash” +  nukeru) means to “rush through” or “rush by,” especially in the sense of coming from behind and passing.
kirinukeru (“cut” + nukeru) means to “wriggle out” of or “break free” of something, “get through” something, “emerge from” something, or “ride something out.”
kugurinukeru (“dive” + nukeru) means to “slip through” e.g. a cordon, or “evade” e.g. the law.
supponukeru (“clean, completely” + nukeru) means “to slip through” (your fingers), or “clean forget.”
zubanukeru (“zuba,” as in “zubazuba” (“straightforwardly) + nukeru) means to “tower above,” “be the best by far.”
tsukinukeru (“jab” + nukeru) means to “pierce/break through.”

There are many more, but you get the idea: nukeru on the end of a verb gives it that extra sense of “throughness.” Think of nukeru not just the action of “falling out” or “escaping” but as the subsequent path taken by something that has “fallen out” or someone who is “passing through” or “escaping”: like the flight of a homerun hit, the trajectory of a goal shot, the whoosh of a comet across the sky - just passing through.

Nihongo no kaiwa ni wa “nukeru” ga nukete wa ikenai!
You can’t go leaving nukeru out when speaking Japanese!

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Huge Maneki Neko


We came across this huge maneki neko beckoning cat in Gero Onsen in Gifu Prefecture, two hours by car north of Nagoya.

The big pot pussy is situated outside a popular souvenir shop just across the bridge on the way to JR Gero Station and the bus station.

Huge Maneki Neko Gero

Maneki neko are believed to bestow good fortune and this particular maneki is called a koban maneki neko as it is holding a gold coin, called a koban, in front of its stomach, with "Million" rather optimistically displayed.

Large scale maneki neko are something of a party piece for some businesses in Japan and many of them are manufactured in Tokoname, south of Nagoya, an ancient kiln town famous for its maneki neko, which you can buy on our sister site GoodsFromJapan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan Gero Onsen Gifu Prefecture Nagoya Japan Blog Maneki neko spa

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sapporo Snow Festival 2012


The Sapporo Snow Festival started on Monday and will run until 12th February this year. This is the 63rd Sapporo Snow Festival.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

The main places to see the ice and snow sculptures are: Odori Park, Tsudome Community Dome and Susukino - the main entertainment area of Sapporo, south of Sapporo Station. This year's sculptures include a vast Taj Mahal, an ice National Palace Museum from Taiwan and Tsuruga Castle from Fukushima prefecture.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

As well as the amazing ice sculptures, other entertainments include an "Ice Queen" contest (held in Susukino, of course), snow slides and mazes and lots of great Hokkaido food and drink such as hot potatoes, seafood and ramen.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2012
Tel: 011 211 2376

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

© JapanVisitor

Book a Japanese Hotel with Booking.com

The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan's Finest Ryokan and Onsen


Sapporo Snow Festival Hokkaido

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Shake Your Soul/Kripalu Yoga Dance in Japan

There are many dance forms in Japan that you can try from Hula to Hip Hop, Belly to Butoh to Bon Odori. In Japan odori (踊り) means "dance" and is generally used in referring to Japanese forms of dance, while "dan-su" (ダンス), written in katakana from "dance" is a popular way of describing the many forms of dance which come from all over the world.

Kripalu Yoga Dance in Oita Japan

Dance is popular for all ages and is a great way to express yourself, release stress, and exercise. Now in Japan you can also find Yoga Dance (ヨガダンス).

As yoga in it’s many forms is becoming popular in studios all over Japan, the freedom offered in Yoga Dance is a chance to break free from the set poses and to find your inner rhythms and expression in order to achieve union between body and spirit.

Shake Your Soul/Kripalu Yoga Dance comes from Kripalu, a world-famous yoga center in western Massachusetts. Music from around the world is incorporated into the classes which are a combination of guided movements and opportunities for individual expression. In a culture where most leisure time activities as well as work and school life and even exercise and dance are fixed with set rules and expectations, the opportunity to express oneself freely and find your own rhythms in a class can be a welcome chance.

Yoga dance is a dance form that is meant to be shared, so it is also a fitting expression in Japan where doing things in groups in the spirit of team work is a prevalent value. Once we connect to ourselves and let our own hearts open, it is a joy to share that expression with others through movements and creative expressions.

Shake Your Soul Kripalu Yoga Dance in Oita (Heart of Christmas Event, Oita)

For information about Shake Your Soul/Kripalu Yoga Dance in Oita: joannegyoshida[at]yahoo.com

Monday, February 06, 2012

Japan Photo Fun


Visiting Japan has been one of my daughter's and my favorite experiences. Our photographs are our most cherished souvenirs.

Japan Photo Fun

Whenever we see a life-size cut-out of a samurai, a warring states princess, or even a television character I am ready to whip out my camera. My enthusiastic daughter will always pose for a picture that never fails to make us laugh.

On Shikoku we visited Uchiko in Ehime Prefecture, where we met up with Mito Mitsukune and (no surprise here) Sakamoto Ryoma.

Japan Photo Fun, Kyushu

On Kyushu my daughter was pleased to portray the awesome Kato Kiyomasa, standing in front of the impressive Kumamoto Castle.

Japan Photo Fun

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Japan News This Week 5 February 2012


Japan News.Incoming Chief Takes On a Sony That Is a Shadow of Its Former Self

New York Times

Thomas Blake Glover


IAEA approves stress tests on Japan reactors


Record lows recorded at 38 locations

Japan Times

¿Estallará China?

El Pais

Nucléaire au Japon : « L'Etat est un traître pour les travailleurs »

Rue 89



Hooked on Nuclear Power: Japanese State-Local Relations and the Vicious Cycle of Nuclear Dependence

Japan Focus

IOC sells Japan 2014, ’16 Games rights for $472M

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News


As of the end of October 2011, the number of foreign workers in Japan rose by 5.6% over the same period in the previous year.

686,246 foreigners currently work in Japan.

Source: Kyodo News

Number of foreign students in the USA, by country (percentage rise or decline compared to the previous year):

1. China, 157,558 (23.5%)
2. India, 103, 895 (-1.0%)
3. South Korea, 73,351 (1.7%)
4. Canada, 27,546 (-2.1%)
5. Taiwan, 24,818 (-7.0%)
6. Saudi Arabia, 22,704 (43.6%)
7. Japan, 21,290 (-14.3%)
8. Vietnam, 14,888 (13.5%)
9. Mexico, 13,713 (2.0%)
10. Turkey, 12,184 (-1.7%)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Reigando Cave

宮本 武蔵, 霊巌洞

I am a visitor from America, and in late October I traveled to Kumamoto in search of Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), the legedendary Japanese swordsman.

Reigando Cave Kyushu

Kumamoto has a large bus terminal with 36 points of departure. After some assistance from the bus personnel, my daughter and I located the correct bus heading to Reigando Cave. This is where Musashi spent the last years of his life and purportedly wrote The Book of Five Rings.

We reached the bus stop in about a half hour. It is a 20 minute walk uphill to the cave.

After paying the entrance fee we passed by some modest displays before pausing to photograph the stone jizo figures covering the hillside. Then we climbed up to the cave and investigated. It was just as we had seen on the 2003 Taiga Drama, "Musashi." We each sat on the large rock and took in the view, as we imagined Musashi himself may have done in his private meditation.

Reigando Cave

The guide book recommended traveling by car to Reigando Cave, and if you have this option available I think it is a wise decision. The bus schedule isn't convenient at all. We had to ask a sympathetic middle-aged couple for a ride down the hill because we weren't going to make it to the bus stop on time. The man and his wife were so kind they ended up driving us to a local bus terminal. We were extremely grateful.

Reigando Cave Kyushu Southern Japan

© JapanVisitor.com


Miyamoto Musashi Reigando Cave Miyamoto Musashi Kumamoto

Friday, February 03, 2012

Yoshida Shrine Bonfire 2012


As part of the "setsubun" festivities to welcome in the new lunar year the massive bonfire at Kyoto's Yoshida Shrine is taking place this evening. Expect a larger than average crowd as it is a Friday night.

© JapanVisitor.com

Kamikaze Japan's Death Pilots


A new book "Kamikaze Japan's Death Pilots" by Albert Axell and Hideaki Kase was published in Danish on 27 in January.

The front cover shows Lieutenant Yukio Seki (1921-1944), one of the first Japanese airman who went to his death as a kamikaze pilot, attacking and destroying the USS St. Lo.

The image is from a painting by Copenhagen-based, Japanese artist Yoshiki Nakahara (after the likeness of the suicide pilot and plane).

Kamikaze Japan's Death Pilots book cover
Click on the image to expand

An English edition is in the works but not unfortunately with Yoshiki's cover.

Read an interview with an ex-kamikaze pilot

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sapporo Kaitakushi Beer Premium

サッポロ 札幌開拓使麦酒

One of the better classic Japanese beer re-releases for the winter season is Sapporo's Kaitakushi Beer Premium, supposedly a return to the taste of the first beers produced at the Sapporo brewery way back in the late 19th century.

Sapporo Kaitakushi Beer Premium

The limited release beer is available in convenience stores and is one of the best pale ale type beers we have sampled in Japan. With an ABV of 5.5%, Sapporo Kaitakushi Beer Premium has more of a kick than common or garden Japanese lagers and it's fairly tasty and with a nice color and aroma to boot.

Sapporo Kaitakushi Beer Premium cans

For recent updates on new Japanese beer releases check out the informative japanbeer.wordpress.com

© JapanVisitor.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...