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

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brown Hawk Owl


A pair of Brown Hawk Owls (Ninox scutulata) regularly nest in the grounds of Nagoya Zoo in Higashiyama Koen in the north east of the city.

Brown Hawk Owl, Nagoya

The birds draw a stream of visitors peering up into the trees to spot the well-camouflaged birds. Brown Hawk Owls can be found in an area from the Middle East stretching through South and South East Asia to China and Japan, where the birds often breed before moving to warmer climes in the winter.

Brown Hawk Owls are nocturnal and feed on small birds, insects, frogs, lizards and mice. They nest in tree hollows.

© JapanVisitor.com

Japan wildlife
Hawk Owl
Japanese birds

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kyoto Cycle Tour Project Bicycle Hire


A number of bicycle hire shops are congregated near the Kyoto Station area close to the APA Hotel Ekimae and the Rihga Royal Hotel including Miyakoshiki Fuune, where visitors can rent battery-assisted bicycles.

Rent bicycles in Kyoto

Right behind the APA Hotel Ekimae to the west of Kyoto Station is the reliable Kyoto Cycle Tour Project, where you can rent a variety of bicycle types as well as rain wear and helmets.

Kyoto Cycle Tour Project has other outlets near Kinkakuji, Nishiki-kita (at the Hotel Co-op Inn) and Fushimi (at Urban Hotel).

Kyoto Cycle Tour Project
552-13 Higashi-Aburanokoji-cho
Aburanokoji-dori Shiokoji sagaru
Shimogyo-ku Kyoto
Tel: 075 354 3636
Hours: 9am-7pm
Google map of KCTP

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Osaka National Museum of Art


Osaka National Museum of Art (NMAO) in the Nakanoshima area of Osaka was originally the Expo Museum of Fine Arts in Expo '70 Commemorative Park in Suita and opened as a museum in 1977 before moving to Nakanoshima in 2004.

Osaka National Museum of Art (NMAO), Nakanoshima

The Osaka National Museum of Art has a collection of over 6,000 works of 20th and 21st century artists both Japanese and foreign such as Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio Morandi and Andy Warhol. In addition the museum has a large collection of contemporary photography and over 300 sculptures.

Osaka National Museum of Art (NMAO)

Osaka National Museum of Modern Art
4-2-55 Nakanoshima
Tel: 06 6447 4680
Closed Monday


The Osaka National Museum of Art is a short stroll southwest from Watanabebashi Station (Exit 2) on the Keihan Nakanoshima Line and 10 minutes west from Higobashi Station (Exit 3) on the Yotsubashi Subway Line.
Google map of the Osaka National Museum of Art

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bringing a Bit of Japan Home

When I travel to Japan I pack little beyond the necessities. I know that the hotels and ryokans supply visitors with many personal goods, and that a laundry room is usually available; therefore, my suitcase can be filled with interesting and beautiful merchandise from Japan. It always is.

Once in a while I want something that cannot fit inside of a suitcase or that could be damaged in the crush of goods. When I visited the Kyoto Handicraft Center I spent a long time looking at a selection of prints dating from the 1920's. I was very pleased to choose a rural scene dotted with crows.

Woodblock print from Japan

Another time I was enamored by the ryokan experience and I coveted a futon and kakebuton. Of course I could not bring these items home from Japan. Instead, I purchased the futon from an online retailer called GoodsFromJapan.com. I found a pattern written in English for a kakebuton, and with some difficulty I sewed a kakebuton of my own. Of that, my aging cat is very grateful.

Kakebuton from Japan

Next I longed for a kotatsu, or a version of it. I didn't need the heating unit, but I wanted a nice low table to use for enjoying tea and cookies. Shopping at IKEA was the answer.

Tea-table kotatsu

On my recent trip to Japan, I went searching for a bamboo rake - and I found one in Kanazawa. I held it and realized with dismay it would not fit in the overhead compartment on the airplane. When I returned home I contacted a Japanese nursery that shipped me the bamboo rake I wanted. Ah, but it is too beautiful to use!

Japanese Broom

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shimpu "New Wind" Party Anti-Korean Parade in Tokyo


Restoration Political Party, New Wind (Ishin Seito Shimpu) is a small extreme right-wing party in Japan that was founded in 1995. The word ishin harks back to the Meiji Ishin (Meiji Restoration/Renovation) when Japan set out on the road to modernization in the 1850s.

However, modernization having been well and truly achieved, some of Japan's modern-day would-be "restorers" (or "renovators") have little more up their sleeve, it seems, than a peevish and childishly extreme antipathy for Korea.

I was walking through Shinjuku today with a few friends when we heard a woman's voice shrieking passionately over a set of the souped-up car roof speaker sets that are the mainstay of Japanese political peddling.

It turned out to be a political rally of the Shimpu Party, vociferously denouncing Korea and all things Korean. The main message was the ludicrous one of "break all diplomatic ties with Korea." Yeah right, I thought, that has to be the answer to all of Japan's woes.

Then, as the parade of patriots of both sexes and all ages - but a sadly uniform lack of acumen - went by, it became even more ridiculous and even offensive. "No more plastic-surgery-addicted Korean pop idols!," "The comfort women were just prostitutes!," "Expel all Koreans from Japan!," and more.

The main reason why the Korean population of Japan is called "Korean" is because they are generally not permitted to take out Japanese citizenship even though nearly all of them were born in Japan. The reason why so many Koreans came to Japan in the first place is because they were forcibly brought to Japan by the Japanese for forced labor during the Pacific War.

The gist of the matter is that Korea is surging ahead of Japan in manufacturing prowess. For example, Samsung is now the globe's leading manufacturer of memory chips, televisions and flat-screen panels, and has become number two in mobile phones.

For Japanese who are suffering from the effects of Japan's economic nosedive, the fact of Japan losing its economic supremacy has deprived them of the little nationalistic comfort left to them. Thus the shrillness, not to mention the puerility, of today's Shimpu Party anti-Korean demonstration.

 © JapanVisitor.com

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fake Food in Japan


Most visitors to Japan are familiar with displays of fake food or food replicas outside restaurants. Made of PVC these plastic reconstructions of the menu outside help customers to decide on what they will order inside.

Fake food in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu

What most people won't know is that the quiet town of Gujo Hachiman in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan is the fake food capital of the nation with 10 factories churning out plastic fake food replicas for distribution around Japan and abroad.

The founding father of Gujo's fake food business is Ryuzo Iwasaki (see image below) who began making wax replicas in Osaka before moving back to his hometown of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu in the 1930s to create an empire.

Ryuzo Iwasaki founding father of fake food
Ryuzo Iwasaki
Visitors to Gujo Hachiman can even turn their hand to making their own replicas (in wax not the more hazardous plastic) at Sample Village Iwasaki (Iwasaki Mokei) and Sample Kobo, two workshops in town showcasing the art of food replicas and their manufacture. Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan/City Museum also has displays and panel explanations on the fake food industry and its history.

Besides the standard food replicas of sushi, udon, oden and tempura, visitors can purchase food replica phone straps, fridge magnets, key chains and even ear picks.

Japanese food samples, Gujo

Sample Village Iwasaki
250 Jonan-cho, Hachiman-cho, Gujo City, Gifu
Tel: 0575 67 1808
Hours: 10am - 4pm

© JapanVisitor.com

Book Reviews on Tokyo Japan Guides

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Japan News This Week 24 June 2012


Japan News.Japanese Officials Failed to Use U.S. Data Tracking Radiation After Tsunami

New York Times

Shinji Kagawa completes his move to Manchester United


Japan's appetite for whale meat wanes


Japan's popularity in Taiwan rises to 75% in latest poll

Japan Times

日调查称逾七成台湾人对日抱好感 四成人最爱日本


Death of the “Legendary Okama” Tōgō Ken: Challenging Commonsense Lifestyles in Postwar Japan

Japan Focus

Japan looking for more judo golds at Olympics

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's Japan News


Most victims of sexual crimes in Japan never seek help.

According to a government report, many women attempt to deal with the trauma of an attack or rape by themselves.

67.9% of respondents to a poll said they had told no one about the incident.

When asked why, 46.2%  replied they were "too embarrassed" to talk about the horrible experience. Twenty-two percent said they wanted to forget the whole thing. Twenty-nine percent, the third largest reply, was "nothing will change if I speak up."

Source: Jiji Press

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, June 23, 2012


すし (寿司)

Think of Japan and chances are one of the first things that springs to mind or mouth will probably be sushi.

Sushi is often just a slice of raw seafood or other topping (neta) on a bed of plain white rice (shari) with a dab of wasabi (horse radish).

Sushi in Tokyo

Sushi can be enjoyed on a number of different levels according to price ranging from sushi for the masses at kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurants found just about everywhere in Japan to 500 USD lunches at a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo such as the acclaimed Sukiyabashi Jiro.

But have the Japanese always eaten sushi and raw fish (sashimi)? When did the habit begin and how did sushi spread all over Japan and to many parts of the world?

Makisushi - sushi in a roll

Early sushi probably appeared in the Muromachi Period (14th-16th centuries) and was not raw fish but fermented fish flavored with vinegar to help preserve it. The raw fish sushi we recognize today originated in the Edo Period (1603-1867) in Edo (present-day Tokyo) as a quick snack sold at the road-side and outside public places of entertainment. The whole thing was much bigger than the bite-sized morsels seen nowadays and was eaten with the hands.

Sushi at its best

The period of Japan's industrialization in the Meiji Period (1867-1912) lead to better domestic communications and transport links with the coming of the railways and many local habits and tastes went national, including sushi. The formation of a national army with men conscripted from all over the country helped to spread a national "diet."

Sushi really began hitting an international audience in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the "Bubble Economy" was at its peak and Japanese restaurants began following its cars and TVs to the streets of New York, LA and London. The movie Rising Sun, based on the Michael Crichton's novel and starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes introduced viewers to the obscure practice of nyotaimori - eating sushi off the body of a naked woman.

© JapanVisitor.com

Guide Books on Tokyo Japan

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tokyo Chiropractic


If you are need of an English-speaking chiropractor in Tokyo head for Tokyo Chiropractic in Aoyama near Ometansando Station.

Tokyo Chiropractic, Omotesando

Tokyo Chiropractic is run by a third-generation chiropractor - his grandfather, father and two uncles were all chiropractors - who has trained overseas in Australia and can communicate with you in English. A first visit to Tokyo Chiropractic costs 8,000 yen with subsequent visits 5,500 yen.

Tokyo Chiropractic

Tokyo Chiropractic
3F, Daini Seiho Bldg.
3-5-2 Kita Aoyama
107 0061
Tel 03 3478 2713
Fax 03 3478 2714
Access: Omotesando Station is on the Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda lines.

Guide Books on Tokyo Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Higurashi-mon Nishi Honganji


The Higurashi-mon (Higurashi Gate) is an ornate, Chinese-style entrance gate (kara-mon) on the southern side of Nishi Honganji Temple in Kyoto close to the Omiya campus of Ryukoku University.

Higurashi-mon, Nishi-Honganji Temple, Kyoto

The Higurashi-mon also known as "Sunset Gate" or "Day Long Gate" - as one could spend the whole day admiring its beauty - was once part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Fushimi Castle, where it was known as the Chokushi-mon or Imperial Messenger's Gate before it was moved to Nishi Honganji in 1632.

Higurashi-mon, Nishi-Honganji Temple

The flamboyant carvings depict various real and mythical animals including Chinese lions (shishi), peacocks, tigers, dragons, plants and flowers such as pine trees and peonies as well as scenes from Chinese history.

The roof of the gate is made from cypress bark and is a plain counterpoint to the lavish carving, bright painting and gilded metal work below.

Higurashi Gate, Nishi-Honganji Temple, Kyoto

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whale for Sale in Tokyo

クジラ肉 東京

Japan's state-sponsored whaling industry has brought Japan unwanted criticism and condemnation worldwide. Japan's protestations that its hunting for whales is for "scientific" purposes does not dampen that criticism.

Nangeihonpo Whale Meat, Ueno, Tokyo.
Nangeihonpo Whale Meat Shop, Ueno, Tokyo

I was walking through a shabby shopping mall in the north exit of Okachimachi Station in Ameya-yokocho (or, "Ameyoko") in Tokyo's Ueno district on the weekend when the kanji for whale 鯨 (kujira) caught my eye. I then noted the katakana for mink ミンク, and, sure enough, there in the glass showcase was an array of different cuts of shrink-wrapped whale meat, including mink whale (photo below).

Mink whale meat, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Mink whale meat on sale at Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo

There were even packets of whale jerky (くじらジャーキー) (next photo below)

Whale jerky, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Whale jerky on sale at Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo

and packets of instant whale curry (くじらカレー):

Whale curry, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Whale curry

The shop, Geinanhonpo (鯨南本舗, "Whale South Main Store") is quite new, having opened on February 24 2012. Geinanhonpo has a glossy, stylishly designed catalog on hand of its range of whale wares,  a fairly goodlooking Geinanhonpo website, and even a @geinanhonpo Twitter account. According to that glossy brochure, the Geinanhonpo whale meat shop is owned and operated by the Mistral Group based in the Nihonbashi-kakigaracho area of Tokyo's Chuo ward.

For a hole-in-the-wall shop in the decidedly downmarket Ameyayokocho area, Geinanhonpo it is surprisingly up there when it comes to marketing savvy.

Okachimachi North Exit Shopping Mall, Tokyo.
Okachimachi North Exit Shopping Mall

© JapanVisitor.com

Books on Food in Japan

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rent A Power Assisted Bicycle In Kyoto


Compared with 10 or certainly 15 or 20 years ago, Kyoto now has a number of bicycle hire shops located around the city.

Cycling in Kyoto has become a popular way for both foreign and domestic tourists to get around a city which is basically flat in its central area, with only a slight incline from north to south.

Rent A Power Assisted Bicycle In Kyoto

The advent of the electric power-assisted bicycle, a bicycle with a battery-powered motor, means visitors to Kyoto can save on the leg power and get around the ancient capital a bit more easily as well as head farther afield to such outlying areas as Arashiyama to the west and the temples of Higashiyama in the east.

Miyakoshiki Fuune is one outlet near to Kyoto Station, the APA Hotel Ekimae and the Rihga Royal Hotel where you can rent an electric-powered bicycle as well as normal bicycles for adults as well as children. The shop also has GPS navigation systems for bikes! A 10 hour, one-day rental of an electric bike is 1,800 yen a day (2,000 yen with a child seat). A normal bicycle is 1,000 to 1,200 yen a day depending on wheel size.

Rent a bicycle in Kyoto

As with bicycles, we recommend the wearing of a helmet for the rider and any passenger and the use of gloves. If you fall off your hands will take a lot of the impact of a fall and gloves will help you to avoid some nasty cuts and scratches.

Electric-powered bicycles are classified as human-powered bicycles and not mopeds or motorcycles in Japan so no helmet is required by law but we strongly recommend you to wear one!

Shimogyo-ku, Mikatakonyacho
Horikawa Shiokoji
Tel: 075 371 7800
Hours: April-November 8.30am-7pm; December-March 9am-6pm

J-Cycle near Karasuma Station also has electric bikes for hire as do Kyoto Option.
Kyoto Cycling Tour Project is probably the largest bicycle rental operation in Kyoto with a number of outlets in the city.

© JapanVisitor.com

Book Reviews on Kyoto Japan

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fashion Model on the Streets of Tokyo


You see almost everything on the streets of Tokyo. This vast metropolis of over 13 million people (not counting the satellite cities of Tokyo) is a constant hive of activity of too great a scope and volume to ever completely chronicle.

But it is the glimpses here and there into other lives and worlds that makes Tokyo such a fascinating city. Today's photo is one such moment: a fashion model photo shoot on the streets of Kojimachi in Chiyoda ward, only minutes walk from the moat of the Imperial Palace.

Fashion model on streets of Tokyo.

Kojimachi is on the south side of Shinjuku-dori Avenue just before it finishes at the Imperial Palace. It is mainly small to medium businesses, and a lot of restaurants. This particular building was no doubt chosen because of its paint-on-bare-concrete finish which is somewhat unusual in Japan. The vast majority of buildings in Japan are covered in tiles of some sort.

I only just caught this little slice of Tokyo fashion life. Perhaps it was the fact that I was taking a snap that brought the shoot to an end, but it certainly endowed an otherwise bland part of Tokyo with a moment of glamor.

Recommended Books on Tokyo Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Japan News This Week 17 June 2012


Japan News.Suspect in ’95 Tokyo Attack Is Said to Be Caught

New York Times

England's James Haskell says time overseas has made him better


Japanese mayor approves plan to restart nuclear power plant


Mainali, with family, heads back to Nepal for first time in 18 years

Japan Times



Social Media, Information and Political Activism in Japan’s 3.11 Crisis

Japan Focus

United States Women's Soccer to Play Sweden and Japan This Weekend: Fan's Take

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's Japan News


Most victims of sexual crimes in Japan never seek help.

According to a government report, many women attempt to deal with the trauma of an attack or rape by themselves.

67.9% of respondents to a poll said they had told no one about the incident.

When asked why, 46.2%  replied they were "too embarrassed" to talk about the horrible experience. Twenty-two percent said they wanted to forget the whole thing. Twenty-nine percent, the third largest reply, was "nothing will change if I speak up."

Source: Jiji Press

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Living in the Suburbs

One of the disadvantages of living in the suburbs in Japan, on land that was probably paddy fields 25 years ago, is the lack of a community spirit. Everybody is living here for the first time, nobody's parents lived here, none of the adults who bought their relatively cheap, hastily-constructed properties grew up here.

Garbage in Nagoya Japan

Nobody knows each other, no-one talks to each other, there is no Neighborhood Association or chonai-kai in this neighborhood to foster a sense of community. There is no local festival, there are old people's homes, convenience stores and fishing tackle stores and garbage, lots of garbage: putrid cephalopods, used condoms, broken umbrellas, women's panties, plastic bags full of cat food for the stray cats, McDonald's paper cups, abandoned automobiles and rotting mattresses.

Rubbish in Japan

We are far from the center and perched out on a main road to Toyota a long way from anywhere that needs to be kept clean but worse of all we are close to an untended lot. Untended property left to go to rack and ruin is an open invitation in suburban Japan for every Tomohiro, Daiki and Hiro to dump their debris without a second thought.

Nagoya garbage

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ryukoku University Omiya Campus Kyoto


Very close to Nishi Honganji Temple in Kyoto is the campus of Ryukoku University, which has connections with the temple. The forerunner of the present university is the Gakuryo religious school that was set up by Nishi Honganji in 1639.

Ryukoku University, Kyoto

The western-style buildings at the Omiya campus including the Honkan (Central Hall), Hokko (North Hall), Nanko (South Hall), the Old Guard House and Main Gate at Omiya Campus date from the Meiji Period and are classed as Important Cultural Properties. Ryukoku University as such was founded in 1876. The original fittings were imported from England and the wood-framed, stone plastered buildings were some of the first western-style buildings constructed in the Kansai region of western Japan.

Ryukoku University, Omiya Campus

The university has three main campuses: Omiya, the large modern campus at Fukakusa in Fushimi-ku and Seta in Shiga. The magazine Chuokoron started life at Ryukoku University as a social reformist magazine opposed to alchohol in 1887.

Ryukoku University, Omiya Campus, Kyoto

Ryukoku University
125-1 Daiku-cho
Kyoto 600-8268
Tel: 075 343 3311
Google map of Ryukoku University

Access: Ryukoku University's Omiya campus is a short walk from Kyoto Station right next to Nishi-Honganji Temple.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012



Matsudaira-go is an area of historic interest and natural beauty in the Matsudaira-cho district of the city of Toyota in central Japan, about half an hour's drive south-east from the city center. It was here that the Matsudaira clan had its base and it was Matsudaira Takechiyo, who later changed his name to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was to become the supreme leader of Japan in 1603 and begin the Tokugawa shogunate that was to rule Japan until 1867.

Matsudaira-go, Aichi

This history of the Matsudaira clan is celebrated in a procession of participants in Edo Period costume during the Matsudaira Matsuri festival that takes place on the weekend before April 17 each year. Visitors to the area can take in Kogetsuin Temple, the family temple of the Matsudaira clan, Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine, which is dedicated to the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, a statue of the 14th century founder of the Matsudaira clan - Matsudaira Chikauji, and the Matsudaira-go Historical Museum. Near to the museum is a well, water from which was used for Matsudaira Takechiyo's (aka Tokugawa Ieyasu) first bath following his birth in Okazaki Castle.

Another festival of note in Matsudaira-go is a Hadaka (Naked) Festival, known as Tenkasai that takes place on the second Sunday in February at Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine when males over 16 years old, wearing loincloths, take part in a purification ritual. The festival, which is believed to be ancient in origin, was discontinued in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) but was revived in 1988. Men aged 42, which is considered yakudoshi or an unlucky age, compete to touch a ball that has been soaked in holy water the night before.

Matsudaira-go, near Toyota
Matsudaira Chikauji statue

Matsudaira-go Access

There are Meitetsu buses to the area from Shin Toyota Station and Higashi Okazaki Station that take about 40 minutes to reach Matsudaira-go, but a car would be better to travel to the various places of interest here unless you are coming to hike or cycle. Matsudaira-go is located about 10km east of Toyota city on National Highway 301. Take the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway to get to Toyota via Akaike Station. Matsudaira go is also accessible by by Toyota Oiden Bus from Toyota City Station bound for Onuma (大沼). Get off at Matsudaira-go bus stop. Takes about 40 minutes.

Matsudaira-go, Aichi

© JapanVisitor.com

Good Books on Kyoto Japan

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Osaka Science Museum


Osaka Science Museum is located in the Nakanoshima district of the city. The museum, which opened in 1989, has four floors covering electricity and electronic appliances, science and the family, science in everyday life and space and space exploration. The museum presents a number of "Science Shows" running throughout the day.

Osaka Science Museum, Nakanoshima, Osaka

The basement floor houses the museum's planetarium, which is one of the largest in Japan.

Osaka Science Museum
4-2-1 Nakanoshima
Tel: 06 6444 5656
Admission 400 yen for adults
Closed Monday


The Osaka Science Museum is a short walk west from Exit #3 of Higobashi Station on the Yotsubashi Line of the Osaka subway and even closer to Watanabehashi Station on the Keihan Nakanoshima Line. The museum is a longer walk from Fukushima Station on the Hanshin and Osaka Loop lines.
Google map of the Osaka Science Museum

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Japanese Pickles Tsukemono


Traditional Japanese meals will normally contain rice and pickles, tsukemono in Japanese. Japanese pickles have a long history and were traditionally made in the autumn to preserve food through the winter. Kyoto is particularly famous for its pickles and up until recent times vegetables were washed in the city's rivers and preserved in wooden barrels, which can still be seen stacked against the side of buildings in the northern part of Kyoto near the Kamigamo Shrine.

Japanese pickles

Japanese pickles are made using salt, brine, soy sauce, sake lees and rice bran and can be easily made at home. Almost any vegetable is pickled in Japan including daikon radish (colored yellow in the picture above), Chinese cabbage (hakusai), eggplant, carrots, ginger, onions, turnip and cucumber.

The most famous Japanese pickle is the ume boshi or pickled plum. When a red ume boshi is placed on a bowl of plain white rice it is known as a hinomaru bento (日の丸弁当) - as it recalls the Japanese Rising Sun flag (hinomaru).

Japanese pickles complement the taste of rice and are eaten both as an entree as well as a palate cleanser after the meal. Some people add soy sauce to their pickles but this may not go down well with some purists.

Japanese rice

Japanese pickles make for a great souvenir from Japan and each locality will have its own specialty. For vegetarians in Japan tsukemono are also a god-send.

Shogoin kabura turnip pickles.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, June 11, 2012

Irish bar The Cluracan in Koenji Tokyo

ザ・クルーラカーン 高円寺

Koenji is one of my favorite places in Tokyo. Koenji is in the west of the city, about 10 or so minutes on the JR Chuo line train from Shinjuku, and strikes a happy medium between neighborhood familiarity and alternative urban anonymity.

Irish bar The Cluracan in Koenji Tokyo.
Irish bar The Cluracan in Koenji, Tokyo

Koenji is well known for its temples by day and its nightlife after sundown. A fairly recent addition to Koenji's night scene (recent in the sense of a year and a bit old) is The Cluracan, an Irish bar that recreates pretty convincingly the wood-paneled, dim-lit, speakeasy feel of a drinking establishment of old Ireland.

The Cluracan has numerous beers from the UK on tap. We had a couple of pints of a very tasty Scottish brew, and a generous plate of perfectly cooked fish and chips - all for prices that make The Cluracan very much a candidate for a regular pub in Koenji.

The Cluracan is about a three minute walk from the South Exit of JR Koenji Station.

The Cluracan, 4-9-6 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Tel (03) 5930 1752)
Google Map to the Cluracan Irish Pub

© JapanVisitor.com

Guide Books on Tokyo Japan

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Japan News This Week 10 June 2012


Japan News.Tokyo Gas Attack Arrest Reawakens National Trauma

New York Times

Has Japanese corporate culture changed in last decade?


Japan PM axes ministers and stakes reputation on tax reforms to cut debt


Oi reactors' restart is vital, Noda stresses

Japan Times



An Afghan Okinawa

Japan Focus

Kagawa's Japan hit six, but Aussies held

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's Japan News


The average age of first-time mothers giving birth in Japan went over 30 for the first time.

In 1975, the average age of first-time mothers was 25.7 years old. In 2010, it was 29.9.

In 2011, that climbed to 30.1 in 2011.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Booking.com

Happi Coats

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Siam Garden Thai Restaurant Nagoya


Siam Garden is a popular Thai restaurant in the Fushimi area of Nagoya located close to the Hilton Hotel on the banks of the Horikawa River on the Nayahashi Bridge.

Thai  curry at Siam Garden

Siam Garden gets particularly busy at lunch time when it offers a 1,000 yen set lunch. Thai favorites include Tom Yam soup, Thai curry, Green curry, Thai noodles, Singha beer and stir-fried pork.

The restaurant is located in a building of historic interest - the former Kato Shokai office building dating from 1935. The company was involved in the rice import trade and the company president Katsutaro Kato served as the Honorary Thai consul in Nagoya until 1945.

Siam Garden Thai Restaurant

Siam Garden
Nishiki 1-15-17
Tel: 052 222 8600
Hours: Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner 5.30pm-10pm

Siam Garden is a short walk west from Exit 8 of Fushimi subway station on the Tsurumai and Higashiyama lines of the Nagoya subway. The building also contains a small gallery on its river side.
Google map of Siam Garden

Siam Garden Thai Restaurant, Fushimi, Nagoya

Fans of Thai cuisine may also like to try Somboon, which is located in the nearby Sakae area.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, June 08, 2012

Where to see Euro 2012 in Japan


Euro 2012 Europe's biggest soccer competition kicks off today in Poland and the Ukraine and if you are looking to catch the action check out our listing of sports bars in Japan for places around Japan likely to be televising games.

Strikers, Nagoya

The matches are being shown on the WOWWOW channel and TBS. The games will mostly be happening in the middle of the night here in Japan, due to the time difference, however.

The sports bar Strikers in Nagoya will be showing all of England's games against France, Sweden and the hosts Ukraine as well as all the matches from the quarter finals onwards.

3-11-3 Chiyoda
Tel: 052 332 8882
Google map of Strikers

Strikers is a short walk from Exit #6 of Tsurumai Station on the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway and also close to JR Tsurumai Station.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thanks A Million


Thank you so much to all our readers as today the blog has passed the 1 million readers mark since statistics came available in May 2008.

Thanks a million
Click on the image to enlarge +

Some of our most popular blogs were on the Japanese phrase so desu neJapanese nail art, gay saunas in Tokyo and the island of Tsunoshima. We try to be as eclectic as possible in covering Japan and we are very grateful to all of our visitors over the years. Thanks a million!

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Withdrawing Money With Foreign Issued Credit Cards in Japan


If you are on holiday in Japan and need to withdraw cash with a foreign-issued credit card head over to a post office and you will normally find one or more ATMs. The banking arm of the Japanese Post Office (yucho ginko; Japan Post Bank) allows for foreign-issued credit cards to be used in these ATMs and the machines themselves are bilingual with instructions in English.

ATM in Japan

Just insert your credit card, choose the English menu, enter your pin number and press "Withdraw", follow the instructions and select the amount of yen you require from 1,000 yen upwards.

Withdraw cash with credit card in Japan

The following credit cards: Visa, Visa Electron, Plus, MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club, JCB, China Unionpay and Discover are all accepted at Japan Post Bank ATMs. There is a small handling charge for the service of 105 yen or 210 yen after 6pm.

Japan Post Bank ATM

© JapanVisitor.com

Guide Books on Tokyo Japan

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