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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Japan News This Week 31 July 2016


Japan News.
Knife attacker wanted to rid Japan of the disabled, authorities say
New York Times

Tokyo votes for new prefecture governor after scandals

Japan responds to Brexit shock with record stimulus package

Better to holiday at home than endure a resort during the Japanese summer
Japan Times

Introduction to the Taiheiki: The Chronicle of Great Peace
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Homicides per 100,000 people in 34 OECD countries in 2013:

1. Mexico: 18.9
2. Turkey: 4.35
3. Estonia: 4.08
4. USA: 3.82
5. Chile: 3.14
6. Hungary: 2.67
7. Belgium: 1.67
8. Israel*: 1.75
9. Finland: 1.72
10. Canada: 1.44

34. Japan: 0.29

*Israel's data is from 2012.
Source: Business Insider

© JapanVisitor.com

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Osaka's "Village" - Gay or Straight - for a Rip Roaring Extravaganza!

大阪 ゲイ・バー ヴィレージ

A drag queen takes the stage at Osaka gay bar "Village."
Drag fun a go-go at gay bar Village, Osaka.
Just five minutes or so a walk from Osaka or Umeda Stations lies Doyama, arguably the biggest gay center in western Japan. While Doyama is not exclusively gay – some of the multi-floor, beehive-like buildings have both straight and gay small bars – suffice to say that it is gay enough that you can’t miss it. There’s something for everyone’s tastes here, be it a laid back bar, karaoke, a bustling lounge, or a full on club. And then there’s Village.

A sexy athletic work out on stage at Village, a gay bar in Doyama, Osaka, Japan.
Athletic fun a-gogo at gay bar "Village," Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Village is, by Japanese standards, a cavernous space, clearly capable of handling at least a hundred revelers. One part of the place has tables and places for easy conversation, but the real action is at the bar. With two lengths of bar joined at a right angle, it’s a big, bustling center of conversation. However, the real big and bustling sight to see lies behind the bar, up on stage. It is here where, on Saturday nights, a raucous, no holds barred, cross dressing celebration of life gets underway.

The colorful space of gay bar Village in Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Pinks and purples a-gogo at Village, Doyamacho, Osaka.
If you’ve been to “lady boy” bars in Thailand, reset your expectations, because Village is nothing like that. For starters, there’s no sudden crotch flashes or the like, which is sure to put certain, perhaps less gay, visitors at ease. Instead, it’s part comedy, part dance, and a lot of camp. It’s just plain fun, if not 100% clean fun. Let’s call it 90% clean.

But lest you think differently, rest assured that Village is not just about the shows. With a great mix of people: Japanese, foreign visitors, men and women, gay and straight, there’s truly a rainbow of people to get to know! It’s a very friendly vibe, so even if you go alone, just put a smile on your face, and before you know it you will have made a gaggle of friends.

Budget glam drag at Village, an LGBT bar in Osaka, Japan.
Budget glam a-gogo at Village, LGBT bar in Doyama, Osaka, Japan.
The stage performers are also your bartenders, and they love chatting. There’s a bit of English spoken as well, so don’t you worry one little bit about that!

A little trivia: Village is run by the godfather of gay bars in Osaka. He’s started or been a part of many big name bars in the area, and everyone in the business knows him. He’s around 70 now, but still behind the bar at Village.

The owner of Village, a veteran face of the gay bar scene in Osaka.
The "Godfather of Gay Bars in Osaka."

Your first drink includes some snacks, and runs 1000 yen for visitors. Successive drinks are 700 yen each. Shows are on Saturdays only, one at 11pm (-ish) and one at some point later in the evening. It will all probably be a colorful blur by then, so there’s no point in getting specific about times, but for what it’s worth, they claim it starts at 2am. On nights with no shows, there is always karaoke at the ready.

Comic camp fun at Village, a gay bar in Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Comic camp fun a-gogo at Village.
Village has a fabulous website to get you in the mood: http://www.village.jpn.com/  You can find the club on the second floor at 10-3 Doyama, Kita-ku, Osaka

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tsukuba Bus Station


The bus station (Tsukuba Center) in Tsukuba is opposite Tsukuba Station. Both local and highway buses depart from Tsukuba Center. The ticket office also serves as the Tourist Information Center.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

Local buses are operated by Kanto Tetsudo (Kantetsu) and run to Tsuchiura Station in Tsuchiura, Mt. Tsukuba, Wellness Park, Hitachi-no-Ushiku Station, Ushiku Station, Kenkyugakuen Station, Sakura Newtown, Tenchnopark-oho, Tsukuba University Hospital, Driving License Center, Shimotsuma Station, Ishige Station, Aeon Mall Tsukuba, Kenchikukenkyujo, Space Center (Uchu Senta-) and Daigaku Nishi.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

There are also long-distance highway buses to Tokyo (via Ueno Station to Tokyo Station 90 minutes), Narita and Haneda airports (both airports about 1 hour 40 minutes) and Mito Station in Mito.

Buses to Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland begin at Tsuchiura Station and call at Tsukuba Center on the way. There are 3 buses daily from Tsukuba at 6.30am, 7.50am and 3.20pm (95 minutes; 1,540 yen).

There are overnight buses to Osaka (Dream Go; 9,900 yen), Kyoto (Yokappe Go; 9,100 yen) and Nagoya.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

Kantetsu buses to Kyoto and Osaka start at Mito Station South Exit, call at Tsuchiura Station, Kyoto Station Hachijoguchi Exit, Osaka Station, Namba Station West Exit (OCAT) and Abeno Harukas. The bus departs at 10.53pm from Tsukuba Center arriving at Kyoto Station at 6.17am and Osaka Station at 7.13am.

The last bus to Tokyo from Tsukuba Station is at 12.30am daily. The buses to Narita Airport begin at Tsuchiura Station and then stop at Tsukuba Center. The first bus leaves Tsukuba Center at 5.20am with the last bus at 6.50pm. The fare is presently 2,200 yen.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

Tsukuba Bus Center (in Japanese)

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum


The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum in the Naramachi district of Nara is a fun, free museum dedicated to the ingenious wooden toys of the Edo Period. The museum is situated in an old machiya townhouse that was previously a restaurant. The building dates from 1890 that was restored in 2012. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum is operated by a local NPO.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.

17th and 18th century Japanese kids didn't have smartphones and Pokemon Go so entertained themselves with a number of hand-made, mechanical automata (karakuri) that have been reproduced by a history professor at Nara University and are on display inside this traditional house.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.

As well as the wooden toys on display that you are encouraged to play with by the friendly volunteer staff. the museum also displays original drawings, illustrations and wood block prints (ukiyo-e) of various games from Edo times.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara, Japan.

There are around 600 exhibits on show at the museum and visitors can handle about 30 of them. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum also holds regular events and workshops where participants can learn how to make their own wooden toys. These are a lot of fun! The next free events are on the weekend of August 6-7 from 10am-4pm.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.

At the back of the tatami-floored museum is a small garden you can take a look at from the inside of the building. The garden is planted with seasonal plants such as camellia, plum, cherry, rhododendron and hydrangea.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum (Official site in Japanese)
7, Inyocho, Nara 630-8338
Tel: 0742 26 5656
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Wednesday
Admission: Free

The museum is about 10 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara, Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Traditional Toys From Japan

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wellness Park Tsukuba


Wellness Park in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture is a sports and leisure center adjacent to Tsukuba "Clean Center" - a euphemism for the city's incinerator.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Power from the plant provides energy to heat the swimming pool and onsen in the park which also includes outdoor soccer fields with both artificial and natural turf.

The main sports' center which includes the pool and onsen also has a gymnasium where residents can take a variety of fitness courses including stretching, yoga and aerobics. The pool also has regular swimming classes.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

There is also a large lawn area, running track, mini golf course and dog run.

Wellness Park is north of Tsukuba Station and can be reached by regular buses from the bus station in just over 20 minutes.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Tsukuba Wellness Park
Tsukuba City Yamaki 1562
Tel: 029 867 5210

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Japan News This Week 24 July 2016


Japan News.
From Japan, a ‘Chicago’ You Probably Haven’t Seen
New York Times

Pokemon Go finally launches in Japan

Japan's $1m fertility gambit to help women become mothers

Okinawa protests erupt as U.S. helipad construction resumes
Japan Times

Hinin Taiheiki: The Paupers’ Chronicle of Peace
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The countries with the highest shares of organic agricultural land under cultivation in 2013:

1. Falkland Islands (Malvinas): 36.3%
2. Lichtenstein: 30.9%
3. Austria: 19.4%
4. Sweden: 16.4%
5. Estonia: 16.2%
6. Samoa: 14.3%
7. Switzerland: 12.7%
8. Sao Tome and Principe: 12.%
9. Latvia: 11.2%
10. Czech Republic: 11.1%
11. Italy: 10.8%

??. Japan: 0.8%
??. USA: 0.7%

Source: FIBL

© JapanVisitor.com

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan


Pokemon Go finally launched in Japan, the land of its birth, yesterday. Already there are thousands of young people in Japan now out playing this addictive game.

Pokemon Go In Japan

There is a lot of cool and cute Pokemon Go merchandise on sale in Japan that is not available elsewhere in the world.

Get Pokemon Go goods on Yahoo Auctions, Rakuten, Amazon Japan or at the Pokemon Centers in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo-Bay (Chiba) and Yokohama.

Simply contact GoodsFromJapan about the Pokemon Go goods you want, and a member of the GoodsFromJapan team will get back to you right away with availability and price.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.

Pokemon Go items available on Amazon Japan that do not ship overseas (and which GoodsFromJapan can purchase for you and send to you) include Cosplay items, cute soft toys and a range of smart phone holders for your bike.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.
Don't delay - get Japan-only Pokemon goods sent direct to you today!

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Friday, July 22, 2016

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba

The Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba is one of the best hotels in Tsukuba located right in the center of the city near Tsukuba train and bus stations. The hotel consists of the main building and an annex, which also hosts the hotel's pool, which is open to visitors and requires an extra charge for guests.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

Rooms at the Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba are clean and spacious with good Wifi. There are free complimentary English newspapers, a spacious lobby with business services and a beer garden in the hotel car park in summer.

The hotel offers two restaurants: one serving Japanese food, the other Chinese-style.

The location of the hotel couldn't be more convenient as it is located right at Tsukuba Station with bus and train connections to Tokyo and further afield.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.

The Okura Frontier Hotel is popular with foreign visitors for conferences and vacations. The hotel is connected to the Tsukuba Center Building which has some excellent dining choices including the recommended Spanish-style restaurant, Bond. In the nearby Bivi Building try the Saza cafe for excellent coffee and quiche.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Japan.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba
Azuma 1-1364-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0032

Just a little to the south of Tsukuba Station near Takezono Park is the 4-star Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba Epochal.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, July 18, 2016

Brazil Festival in Tokyo 2016

The Brazil Festival is an annual summer event in Tokyo, at the always buzzing and crowded Yoyogi Event Plaza, across from big, sprawling, action-packed Yoyogi Park, and right next to the Yoyogi National StadiumFestival Brasil 2016 happened there again last weekend.

The Tokyo area has a large Brazilian population, much of it in quite rural areas. The Brazil Festival, held here every summer, is where they all come together and celebrate brasilianismo.

The festival was held over two days, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was the better-attended day, maybe because the next day, Monday, was a national holiday, Umi no Hi (Day of the Sea).

It was a festival in the true sense of the word, with food galore, drink galore and music and dancing everywhere. Not to mention the costumes. That bewitchingly Brazilian mix of skimpiness and uber-decoration was on full display, and sartorial expressiveness was a hallmark of the event.

The food included churrasco, from the nearby Barbacoa Grill on Omotesando Street, as well as coxinha, acai, and pastels, to name a few.

Dozens of stalls represented the numerous Brazilian-run and Brazil-oriented businesses in Japan. One of the most popular was the Brastel Remit money remittance stall, near the pedestrian overpass to Yoyogi Park. The Brastel booth was fitted around with jets that emitted a fine cooling spray, encouraging people to tarry a while in the mid-summer heat of the day.

The music stage was an all-day blend of every genre from rock to pop to a cute song and dance act featuring the long-running Brazilian children's cartoon, Turmo da Monica.

Nationality, too, was just as varied as everything else on the day, with people from dozens of countries imbibing the exuberant,
uniquely Brazilian atmosphere.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Japan News This Week 17 July 2016


Japan News.
Emperor Akihito of Japan Plans to Abdicate Throne, Broadcaster Says
New York Times

Japan PM Shinzo Abe claims victory in parliamentary election

Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory

Views from Kyoto: What does the future hold for hemp in Japan?
Japan Times

Are Asia’s Energy Choices Limited to Coal, Gas or Nuclear?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan spends very little on public education. A trip to any public school makes this clear. However, in a comparison of OECD member states, it becomes even clearer how little Japan spends.

For example, Japan spends 0.5% of its budget on tertiary education. In comparison, the United States spends 1.4%,  the Netherlands the same 1.4%.

Only tiny Luxembourg spends a lower percentage of its national budget than Japan.

Source: OECD

Inside Track Japan For Kindle Readers

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

K’s Hills: a Classic Osaka Gay Bar Experience

ケイズ・ヒルズ  ゲイバー

Some bars try to be all things to all people, be it vibe or orientation. K’s Hills, a bar in Osaka’s Doyama gay area, makes no such efforts. It does what it does well, with class, and with no apologies. With a location just a few minutes’ walk from Osaka or Umeda stations, K’s Hills is easily accessible. Add in the friendly and caring staff, and you’re bound to find it easily approachable too.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka where a warm welcome awaits.
K Hill's in Osaka - a warm welcome awaits

K’s Hills has seating for about fifteen, though if you’re willing to get a bit cozy, a few more can probably find a place rest their butt. They’ve got karaoke, which is free on weekdays, but may run you 100 yen or so per song on weeknights. That said, a nice smile just may get that charged waived.

Since this is a more premium gay bar/lounge experience, you are going to be the beneficiary of attentive, finely honed service, but this also naturally means you will pay more than “shot bar” prices. Figure on 1,600 yen for your first drink (it will come with a little snack too), and 700-800 yen per drink after that.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka with a loungy vibe.- and no smoking.
Loungy (but smoke-free) K's Hills

K’s Hills has been in business for over fifteen years, so you know they are doing something right. With about 70% of their customers being regulars, it’s just the right mix for conviviality without the potential to exclude first timers. On weekdays, women accompanied by men are permitted, but on weekends K’s Hills is a strictly gay male affair.

With karaoke crooning and all, K’s is a laid back affair. Nice to come to by yourself, or with a small group of friends. In the case of the latter, bottle service is a tempting, and potentially economical option.

While of course any age is welcome (the bar owner and manager is in his 50s), it can be said that the bulk of the clientele is in their 20s to mid 30s.

K's Hills is basically a non-smoking bar, but customers may smoke on the balcony.

The entrance to K's Hills gay bar in Osaka.
The entrance to K's Hills - gay bar in Osaka

K’s is located at 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, on the fifth floor. You can see their name on the big bright sign showing the building’s tenants from street level.

K's Hills
5/F Nakadori Leisure Building, 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan
06 6362 6615

Hours: 8 pm - 4 am on weekdays and till 5 am on weekends.

K's Hills on Twitter

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso


The so-called "Momosuke Bridge" in Nagiso on the Nakasendo in Nagano Prefecture is a wooden, suspension bridge across the Kiso River built by the industrialist Momosuke Fukuzawa (1868-1938), the adopted son of the famous politician and reformer, Yukichi Fukuzawa.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

The wooden, suspension bridge was completed in 1922 and was part of the project to build hydro-electric power stations along the Kiso River. The bridge was constructed to transport construction materials. The nearly 248 meter bridge is one of the longest such wooden bridges in Japan.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

Momosuke Fukuzawa became extremely wealthy during his lifetime and was the lover of Sadayakko Kawakami - the Meiji and Taisho-era entertainer, known as the "geisha who wowed the West" following her successful tours of America and Europe. Their palatial, western-style love nest on the "Cultural Path" in Nagoya is now preserved as the Futaba Museum.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

Momosuke Bridge is a short walk north from JR Nagiso Station. Nagiso is about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Nagoya Station on the JR Chuo Line with a change at Nakatsugawa Station.

The bridge is illuminated by LEDs at night.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso, Nagano Prefecture.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Japan News This Week 10 July 2016


Japan News.
U.S. Moves to Limit Protections for Its Civilian Military Workers in Japan
New York Times

Japan gamer who went to play naval arcade game and found real sailors

Bunch of grapes sells for £8,350 in Japan

Young voters hope to reform Japan’s ‘silver democracy’
Japan Times

Retaking Japan: The Abe Administration’s Campaign to Overturn the Postwar Constitution
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


According to an Asahi Shinbun poll, 92% of Japanese support Hillary Clinton.

Of the 1,935 respondents to the question "Hillary or Trump?," only 8% support Donald Trump.

The top two reasons were "(Hillary) is less bad than Trump" and "(she is) not extreme."

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor.com

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Music Festivals in Japan 2016

Here is a listing of this year's music festivals in Japan for the summer of 2016.

Rock and Electronic

Fuji Rock Festival

July 22-24, Naeba Ski Resort, Nagano Prefecture featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Kula Shaker, The Boredoms, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Baby Metal. For the full line-up and ticket details see the website below.
www.fujirockfestival.com (3-day ticket 39,800 yen)

Music Festivals in Japan 2016.

Rock in Japan

August 6-7 & 13-14, Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki with The Winking Owl, Aimer, White Ash, Bump of Chicken, Rip Slyme, The Yellow Monkey, Suck A Stew Dry, Puffy, Totalfat. See the website for the full line-up and ticket information.

Rising Sun Festival (RSR)

August 12-13, Ishikari, Hokkaido with domestic Japanese bands including Sim, Baby Metal, Brahman, Kemuri, Rottengraffty, U A, Grapevine. Tickets 18,500 yen for the 2 days.

Summer Sonic

August 20-21, Tokyo (QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe) and Osaka (Maishima) with Suede, Underword, Fergie, Radiohead, James Bay. 30,500 yen for the two days.


Sept 17-19, Naeba Greenland, Niigata. Quality techno festival in the hills of Niigata Prefecture.

Ringo Fes

August 24-25, Matsumoto. Polaris, Tha Blue Herb, Tofu Beats, Pushim, Nabowa, Eastern Youth.

Other Festivals

Sapporo City Jazz

July-August, Sapporo

Pacific Music Festival (classical)

July-August, Sapporo

Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (classical)

August 9-September 9, Matsumoto, Nagano

Orchestra, Chamber, Opera.

Monterey Jazz Festival

July 30, Noto, Ishikawa. Tickets 5,000 yen.

Tokyo Jazz Festival

Sept 2-5, Tokyo International Forum, Cotton Club

Herbie Hancock, Anthony Jackson, Christian McBride, Pat Metheny.

Tokyo Idol Festival

August 5-7, Diver City Tokyo, Odaiba. Aicune, Miki Ichisaki, AKB48 Team 8, QunQun, Gang Parade. Tickets 14,800 yen for 3 days.

World Music & Dance Festival

August 5-11, Motomachi Park, Hakodate, Hokkaido

Earth Celebration

August 26-28, Ogi, Sado Island with Kodo.

Earth Celebration on Sado Island.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, July 07, 2016

An Encounter with Walking Doctor Duke Saraie - Pounding the Pavements of Akasaka


Duke Saraie in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Duke Saraie, the "Walking Doctor," in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Walking though Tokyo's Akasaka district the other day with my trusty camera in hand, I found myself waiting at a pedestrian crossing alongside a glamorous looking couple who I asked if I could take their photo.

The man, in his late fifties or early sixties, jovial, wearing a beanie, quite heavily bejeweled, and, all in all, something of a character, instantly agreed. The woman with him was a bit more reticent, and when I tried to persuade her he told me she was "his manager" - so of course I desisted, thinking he meant it was below her.

I took a couple of shots of the old guy posing, and then chatted a little for the minute we had before the lights changed. His name was Duke Saraie, and he said he was famous - at least up until a few years ago - for "walking", which he demonstrated for me for a moment or two by holding his arms up straight, hands together, in a sort of catwalk pose. (Thus the pose for the photo without his manager, who no doubt would have stolen some thunder.)

I repeated his name back to him to confirm, we shook hands and said goodbye. Looking him up online, I discovered that this was indeed the famous "Walking Doctor" Duke Saraie, who was the star of a long-running mini-series on Kansai TV (Kansai Telecasting Corporation) called "Bi (pronounced "bee") Walk: A Gift from Duke Saraie" which ran from 2003 to 2008.

Each episode was just six minutes long and ran every Monday just before 10 pm. In it, random people would hunt for a box which contained an invitation to go to Duke Saraie's house, where he would advise the lucky winner on how to improve her (occasionally, his) walking style.

The good Walking Doctor's technique is apparently based on a multitude of arts and disciplines including qigong, sports medicine, martial arts, yoga, ballet, Pilates and breathing exercises. He is said to have developed it working with fashion models for whom good walking is key to success in what they do. He then broadened the scope of his walking regime to include everyone, and has promoted "proper" walking ever since as a panacea.

He is famous enough for most of my Japanese colleagues to know of him.

Duke Saraie was born in Wakayama prefecture in 1954, went to university in Osaka, and, according to the Japanese Wikipedia article on him, lived in Monaco from 2002, dividing his time between there and Japan. He has a wife, who styles herself "Madame Saraie," and two daughters.

He has received awards from the Japan Culture Promotion Association. from his native Wakayama Prefecture, and a Ph.D. from the The International Academy of Education University.

Last, but not least, the Duke apparently boasts a BMI of 22.3 - not bad for a 62-year-old.

Check out Duke Saraie's website (Japanese only)

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Making A Reservation At Saihoji Temple


Advance reservations are needed to visit Saihoji Temple (aka Kokedera - the "Moss Temple") in Kyoto.

Making A Reservation At Saihoji Temple, Kyoto.

This involves sending a self-addressed stamped postcard (ofuku hagaki; 往復はがき) available from the post office or a convenience store, or, if sending from overseas, a postcard with an international reply coupon to Saihoji.

The ofuku hagaki is a set of two postcards one of which will be used by Saihoji to reply.

Making A Reservation At Saihoji Temple.

If you would like JapanVisitor to complete this formality for you we charge 2,200 yen for the service.
We would need:

-your full name
-the date of your visit
-any alternative dates (the more the better your chances)
-the number of people attending
-the address of your accommodation in Japan, such as the name of your hotel with the 7 digit zip code

Please contact us as far in advance as possible (a month ahead at the very least). Saihoji is a popular destination and visits can get quickly booked out. In the event of the application being turned down by Saihoji, we refund the 2,200 yen minus the 108-yen cost of the postcard used to make the application.

You will receive a postcard from Saihoji Temple with the date and time of your visit (see image below). Take this postcard to the temple and pay the admission fee of 3,000 yen per person.

Making A Reservation At Saihoji Temple.

Saiho-ji Temple
Matsuo Jingatani-cho 56

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Kyoto Butoh Debuts Thursday July 7


As part of a PR campaign to entice people to a new theater to showcase the Japanese avant-garde dance Butoh in Kyoto, JapanVisitor was invited to an invitation-only performance.

Hiroshi Mimura, butoh, Kyoto.

The theater is a small "kura" (storehouse) just north of Sanjo in central Kyoto. It is one of the few buildings that survived the 1864 Hamaguri Gate Rebellion, and the ensuing fire set by fleeing rebels that destroyed most of Kyoto from Gosho south to Gojo.

The building is not visible from the street, the only sign of what awaits within a traditional "kabukimon" wooden gate. Once you open the gate, a stone path leads to the storehouse.

After slipping off our shoes, placing them in a rack lined with 16 other shoes, we received a pamphlet (English for gaijin, Japanese for those who appeared to be Japanese), and entered the small first floor room.

Yuji Kohara.

A few of the eight people in the room appeared to know each other and were chatting in hushed tones.

Near the entrance was a steep wooden staircase to the second floor. Upstairs was the dressing room and space for musicians, two young women who played the shamisen.

Shortly before the performance was scheduled to begin, the shuffling of feet and "tink tink tink" of pebbles falling on the floorboards above us began to sound. In accompaniment, the shamisen duo started to warm up.


Then Ima Tenko(今貂子),  whose name means "Now Japanese Marten [sable] Girl," descended the steps, slowly, tantalizingly.

Yuji Kohara.

Covered in white paint from head to toe and wearing tattered robes, she appeared to be a maiko risen from a newly dug grave. Her hair was black and wild and pulled up and barely contained on the top of head. Her teeth were dyed black.

To music and lighting, she writhed, jumped, and danced in front of us for 50 minutes, her sweat splattering the floor. Her lips would curl subtly as she paused to stare into the eyes of the onlookers from a distance of 2-3 feet (one meter); it was as though you were staring death in the face. Other than this, her facial expression rarely varied.

After a brief trip back up the steps in mid-performance, Ima returned to the first floor in a different robe, which she discarded after a bit. Clad only in a red loin cloth, Ima glistened as rivulets of sweat streaked down her taut white-painted torso and legs.

Following the performance, Ima and the two shamisen players came down to speak to us, hear our thoughts, and socialize (she passed out her business cards). Her teeth had been scrubbed of the black makeup.


Ticketing and Reservations Entry costs ¥3,000. Student discount ¥500 off. Reservations please: only eight places per performance. This performance contains nudity.


Just north of the intersection of Koromonotana and Sanjo streets, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8202

 Kyoto Subway: Five-minute walk from Karasuma line or Tozai line; Karasuma Oike station, Exit #6.
 Hankyu Train: Ten-minute walk from Kyoto line, Karasuma station, Exit #22.


Hiroshi Mimura and Yuji Kohara

Inquiries: butohkan.jp

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, July 04, 2016

Ehrismann Mansion


Ehrismann Mansion is located in the historic Bluff/Yamate district of Yokohama.

Ehrismann Mansion was designed by the famous Czech-American architect Antonin Raymond (1888-1972), a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, as a residence for Swiss businessman Fritz Ehrismann in 1926. Ehrismann was the manager of an import/export business, exporting Japanese silk to Europe and importing Swiss watches and medical products to Japan.

Ehrismann Mansion, The Bluff, Yokohama.

Antonin Raymond was the architect of a number of other projects in Japan including the Nanzan University campus in Nagoya, the wooden St. Alban's Church in Tokyo and the Gunma Music Center in Takasaki. The building was part of the redevelopment of The Bluff following the devastating 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

The residence is built in the American colonial style with white clapboard and green shutters. The clapboard is vertical on the first floor and horizontal on the upper floor. Ehrismann was in residence until 1940 when he passed away.

The house is used for a variety of special events and is decorated over the Christmas period.

Ehrismann Mansion has a number of exhibits in its interior and a tearoom/cafe on the first floor.

Ehrismann Mansion
1-77-4, Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0861
Tel: 045 211 1101

Admission: Free
Hours: 9.30am-5.00pm; July, August 9.30am-6.00pm; Closed on every 2nd Wednesday (open if a national holiday), and the New Year holidays.
Access: The nearest stations are Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minatomirai Line and Ishikawacho Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Negishi Line.

Other attractions in the Yamate/Bluff area of Yokohama include Christ Church, the Yokohama Foreigners' Cemetery, the British House Yokohama, the Museum of Tin Toys and the Yamate Museum of Tennis. The Ehrismann Residence is very close to Berrick Hall.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Japan News This Week 3 July 2016


Japan News.
Toyota Recalls 1.4 Million Vehicles as 2nd Major Airbag Maker Is Under Scrutiny
New York Times

Japan uses anime to target young voters

Japan running low on workers as proportion of over-65s hits record levels

Osaka enforces Japan’s first ordinance against hate speech, threatens to name names
Japan Times

Okinawa: U.S. Marines Corps training lectures denigrate local residents, hide military crimes.
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In the April-June quarter of this year, Japan's Air Self-Defense Forces scrambled 194 times, which is more than 80 more than the same period in 2015. Those scrambles were primarily aimed at thwarting Chinese military incursions into Japanese air space.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, July 01, 2016

Kyoto Butoh Theater to Open July 7


Art Complex, responsible for the phenomenally successful show GEAR in Kyoto, plans to open a new theatre to showcase the Japanese avant-garde dance, Butoh.

Hiroshi Mimura, butoh, Kyoto.

This July, on Sanjo St., we open the Kyoto Butohkan, likely the first theater in Japan to be dedicated exclusively to Butoh. Butoh is an avant-garde dance style born in Japan in the 1960's.

Expressing a Japanese physicality and spirituality, the visceral style of Butoh was a fresh challenge to the dance aesthetics of the time, undermining them from the ground up. Since then, Butoh has had a lasting impact on the world of dance.

Even now, Butoh enjoys especially high recognition abroad, but within Japan, information relating to Butoh is hard to come by, and the fact is that there are few venues where one can experience Butoh.

Yuji Kohara.

Last year, Art Complex started production on the Butohkan Project, aiming to increase the prospects for viewing Butoh within Japan. As a part of this undertaking, we are opening the Butohkan to feature ongoing Butoh performances so that Kyoto becomes “the place” to see Japanese Butoh dance.

As the Butohkan gains a reputation, we anticipate that news of such a permanent place to see Butoh will also have an impact on incoming tourism to Kyoto.

About the Space

A valuable cultural resource, it is a "kura," or earthenware storehouse that was built in the latter half of the Edo Period (16031868). It managed to escape the riots of the Hamaguri Rebellion of 1864, in which rebels and shogunate forces collided and set fire to the city. Within the handmade plaster walls of this Kyoto treasure, the resonant sounds of Japanese shamisen blend with visceral dance, and we hope you encounter the rich world of Butoh.

Yuji Kohara.

Kyoto Butoh-kan Performance Details

Grand Opening Thursday July 7 Performances every Thursday thereafter. Times Shows at 6pm and 8pm. Each performance approximately 50 minutes in length.

Ticketing and Reservations Entry costs ¥3,000. Student discount ¥500 off. Reservations please: only eight places per performance. This performance contains nudity.


Just north of the intersection of Koromonotana and Sanjo streets, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8202

 Kyoto Subway: Five-minute walk from Karasuma line or Tozai line; Karasuma Oike station, Exit #6.
 Hankyu Train: Ten-minute walk from Kyoto line, Karasuma station, Exit #22.

Inquiries: butohkan.jp

© JapanVisitor.com

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