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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pokemon Center Nagoya

ポケモン

The most-visited Pokemon Center in Japan is the Pokemon Center in Tokyo.

Pokemon Center Nagoya, Aichi, Japan


There are presently eight Pokemon Centers in Japan besides the Pokemon Center in Tokyo: Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo-Bay (Chiba) and Yokohama.

Pokemon Center, Sakae, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan


The Pokemon Center in Nagoya is located on the 5th floor of the main building of the Matsuzakaya department store in Sakae. The store is always popular and sells a variety of the hit anime's goods.

If you want the hottest Pokemon items before they sell out on the day, our sister site GoodsFromJapan serves customers worldwide who want Pokemon Center goods. If you wish to purchase the latest Pokemon goods and have them sent to your home or business please contact us.

Pokemon Center Nagoya, Aichi, Japan


A word from GoodsFromJapan:
"Hi, Dave here, the "Pokemon guy" for GoodsFromJapan in Tokyo. I get regular orders for Pokemon store goods from people all over the world: Singapore, France, Australia, India - you name it.
Most requests are for limited edition Pikachu goods - including plushies, files, phone cases, card holders, etc. - that come out on the special event Saturdays. I'm often there early morning with lists of customers orders, and in realtime contact with certain customers while I shop for them, texting with them using WhatsApp, Line, etc. just to make sure we're on exactly the same page.
Once the customer has sent the money by PayPal (+ our 15% commission), I send the goods using the super-secure and speedy EMS postal service: fully insured, trackable online, with the customer in 5 days max.
So if you want Pokemon goods from the Tokyo Pokemon Center - especially the hot, limited edition ones - please contact us at GoodsFromJapan.
Pika-chuuu!"

Pokemon Center Nagoya
Matsuzakaya Main Building 5F
3-16-1, Sakae, Naka-ku
Nagoya-shi, Aichi, 460-8430
Tel: 052 264 2727

The nearest subway station is Yaba-cho on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya subway.

Hours: 10am-7.30pm; daily

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Japan News This Week 17 August 2014

今週の日本

Japan News.
With Eye on China, Japanese Premier Skips War Shrine
New York Times

Japanese ministers in Yasukuni shrine visit
BBC

Yubari, Japan: a city learns how to die
Guardian

Municipalities begin making rules for children’s use of smartphones
Japan Times

Sovereign Debt: Eroding Japan's National Security
The Diplomat

Uprising: Music, youth, and protest against the policies of the Abe Shinzō government 反乱 若者は音楽で安倍晋三の政策に抗議する
Japan Focus

Analysis: Abe draws ire even as he avoids war shrine on WWII anniversary
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Motor vehicles per 1000 people: 591 (2010)

Source: Wikipedia

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Japan Remembers End of Pacific War at Yasukuni Shrine

終戦記念日 靖国神社

Today is the 69th anniversary of the end of Japan's Pacific War. Since a couple of days ago the right-wing sound trucks have been doing their street-circling routine blaring those funny Japanese-Colonel Blimp-style stirring folksy tunes with their rumpa-dumpa rhythms, sung as if verging on tears of indignantly asserted joy.

Shinmon ("Divine Gate") at Yasukuni Shrine, looking toward the Haiden, Tokyo, Japan.
Paying respects to the war dead at Shinmon ("Divine Gate"), before the Haiden shrine, Yasukuni Shrine.

The streets of Tokyo just north of the Imperial Palace were almost empty due to it being the O-Bon holiday period, but were charged with tension all the same. Surugadaishita intersection, just one intersection east of Tokyo's Jinbocho booktown intersection, was blocked by a police cordon when I passed through at about 9:30 this morning. A plainclothes policeman was remonstrating with a yelling motorist who had gotten out of his car, in the jovial, half-mollifying way authority figures here adopt in the face of blusterers.

I was on a bicycle so, checking with one of the uniformed police, squeezed through (even the footpath had traffic cones and chains strung across it) and continued on my way. Up to Kudanshita intersection was almost completely empty of cars thanks to the roadblock.

From Kudanshita up to Yasukuni Shrine, the traffic resumed, but one lane was blocked off on each side for the grilled-windowed police buses that lined the street. Troupes of young police were being mobilized between them: all in their twenties, fresh-faced and often bespectacled, looking more like student volunteers than front-line enforcers.

Flute and oboe duo, and old man doing his best to sing along, Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo.
Flute and oboe duo, with an old man doing his best to sing along, at Yasukuni Shrine.

Inside Yasukuni Shrine looked busy, hung with banners and with what appeared to be the beginnings of a crowd.

I went to Yasukuni Shrine after midday to see what was happening. The main shrine building was thronged, with a long line of people stretching from the torii gate just in front of it, waiting to approach the shrine and pay their respects to the war dead.

Further towards the other end of the shrine grounds were several stalls, one for the right-wing Nihon Kaigi group selling books with a revisionist take on Japan's waging of war and its causes, and collecting signatures in support of revising Japan's constitution to allow Japanese troops to actively serve abroad. Right beside it was another stall collecting signatures against a move to shift the enshrinement of Japan's war dead to another, less controversial, shrine.

Old soldier I chatted to at Yasukuni Shrine, who fought in Russia as a teen. Tokyo, Japan.
Old soldier I chatted to at Yasukuni Shrine, sent to fight in Russia as a teen.

Most interestingly, however, was the presence of a group dressed in military uniforms, gathered around a monument near one of the gates into the shrine. At their center was a frail looking, long-bearded old man sitting on a beach chair in his uniform, and sporting a medal. I went up to him for a brief chat. He was alert and amiable and told me that he had served in the Japanese army in World War Two in Russia for three years, during which time he had been captured by the Russians. I asked his age, he said 88 (making his wartime experience a teenage one)—"moh dame, moh dame" ("No good, no good anymore!"). I said he looked fine and we had a brief laugh, I thanked him, and moved on. I noticed that as soon as I moved in to talk to him, the guy in military uniform holding an Imperial Army flag immediately disappeared.

It's a hot day today. I went to the refreshment area where there's a small restaurant, outdoor tables full of people snacking and drinking, and vending machines. I bought a bottle of tea and stood there drinking it. Right beside me a guy in his early-to-mid thirties who sounded somewhat tanked up on beer was loudly proclaiming to a bystander he'd cornered about how America was a "land of killers," positing the fate of the native Americans as an example. While Japanese myself, I couldn't resist being a bit of a loudmouth too, and turned around and said to him "Read the history of Hokkaido" (in reference to the fate of the Ainu). I had finished my drink and was walking away anyway, so his outraged shriek equivalent to "WTF!?" in Japanese failed to make its mark.

Dai-Ni Torii ("No.2 Arch") & Shinmon ("Divine Gate"), Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo.
Dai-Ni Torii ("No.2 Arch") and Shinmon ("Divine Gate") at Yasukuni Shrine. 
 The Emperor and prime minister Shintaro Abe are attending an end-of-war memorial ceremony in the Budokan today. Attended by about 6,000 people, it is reported by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that of the approximately 5,000 members of families of the fallen, offspring make up the majority, and that this year has a record low number of former wives of the fallen: 19, and, for the fourth year running, 0 parents.

38 other local authorities throughout Japan are holding parallel ceremonies, involving a total of about 40,000 people.

69 years on, the Second World War has become fodder for renewed nationalistic bickering in East Asia, primarily between Japan and China. I was in China just a month ago and noted the daily "Confessions of Japanese War Criminals" column in the English-language newspapers there, and over the past month or so there have been reports of war bereaved families in various parts of China launching group litigation against Japanese companies and the Japanese government for war reparations.

Japanese Intelligence in World War 2 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Business Hotel Chidori Shimabara

ビジネスホテル千鳥

Shimabara in southern Nagasaki is home to a nice reconstructed castle, Shimabara Castle, a preserved samurai district, and is towered over by the volcano Mount Unzen which erupted in 1991 with the lava flow causing death and destruction. There is an interesting museum to the event and nearby are a series of houses buried under ash and debris.

Business Hotel Chidori Shimabara Kyushu


There are a few hotels and ryokan in the area, and in searching for the least expensive I came up with Business Hotel Chidori. It's not a very new building, but the rooms were fine with all the usual amenities, including internet access in the rooms. I had a western style room but Japanese style tatami rooms are also available.

Business Hotel Chidori Shimabara Kyushu

A single room was just 3,500 yen, and an extra 500 yen gets a substantial breakfast. The hotel is located just a 1 minute walk from Shimatetsuhonshamae Station on the Shimabara Line, which runs from Shimabaragaiko, the port where ferries from Kumamoto arrive and depart, and Isahaya on the Nagasaki main line.

Shimabara sunset Kyushu.


Business Hotel Chidori, Shimabara
2-7393-4 Bentenmachi, Shimabara
Nagasaki 855 0802
Tel: 0957 62 4845
Google map

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Black Angel Sculpture in Nippori Fabric Town

黒い天使 吉田隆

 My partner and I were heading for Tokyo's beautiful old Yanaka district via Nippori.

The area immediately west and south of Nippori Station is pretty featureless, although numerous overseas backpackers could be seen here and there thanks to the cheap backpacker accommodation that the area has quite a lot of.

 However, something eventually came up that endowed the area with a little character. We found ourselves on a street just west of Nippori Station called Nippori Chuo-dori (Nippori Central Avenue) that the numerous banners hung along it proclaimed as being "Fabric Town," and with little fabric and leather shops along it here and there to back the claim up. Apparently there are over 60 such stores along the street, but they are not as densely packed together as say the shops in the kitchenware street of Kappabashi near Asakusa.


Then as we got closer to Nippori Station, almost at the intersection of Nippori Chuo-dori and Ogubashi-dori (尾久橋 for the kanji afficionados out there), we came across this charming statue: a poignant cubist creation called "Black Angel" by the Ishikawa-based sculptor, Takashi Yoshida, set up there in 1985.

"Black Angel" is rigorously angular (I regret not taking a photo of the equally angular back), yet the overall impression is one of delicacy and poise, even pathos, with her possibly pregnant state, obscured features, and lacking right arm—an impression further encouraged not only by the unmistakably dark name of the piece, but also by the distressed little cartoon girl on the fence in the background, importuning pedestrians to cross the road carefully.


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Monday, August 11, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 39 Kyomachi Onsen to Urushidamachi Part 2

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 39
Kyomachi Onsen to Urushidamachi part 2
Saturday November 23rd, 2013

So, I arrive at a decision. I will head back down the valley and go over the mountains where they are lower. I'm not entirely convinced it's the right thing to do. I don't like backtracking as a rule, and there is a good chance I can get over where I originally planned, but maybe I am accumulating a little caution in my old age.

When I was younger I would not have changed my plan. I would have gone ahead and encountered problems but they would have been experienced as adventures. The bottom line, I think, is the worry that I have a room booked tomorrow night and if I don't make it I will still have to pay. That's the thing that nags at me. So.... I stride off east down the valley.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 39 Kyomachi Onsen to Urushidamachi Part 2

My first option is to take the main road, Route 221. It's a new road that roughly parallels the expressway heading north for those willing to pay the exorbitant tolls. Route 221 goes up a "corkscrew" section before passing through a long tunnel and then with another corkscrew descending on the other side. Being a new road it is not likely to have anything interesting to see.

The old Route 221 still winds its way over the mountain, almost certainly no traffic, and probably narrow and overgrown with weeds. It would be a nice walk, but I decide against it because there is the possibility of it being closed at some point by landslide, and because it's a very windy road that would be a much longer walk. In the end, as it's getting into the afternoon, I decide to head a bit further east and go up into the mountains to where a rail line goes over.

As I leave the valley floor the road quickly becomes steep. The station at Masaki is a nice, old, wooden country station, and I'm surprised to find a whole bunch of stalls and local people selling souvenirs. Apparently the train that stops here is a tourist train that stops here for 10 minutes while the driver moves to the opposite end of the train to take it up a switchback.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 39 Kyomachi Onsen to Urushidamachi Part 2


There are apparently three rail switchbacks in Japan, and two of them are on this line. The next train arrives and tourists bundle off the train and there is a hive of activity around the stalls. Lots of photos are taken. The train itself is rather nice, with wooden interiors and some floor to ceiling windows. The conductor calls us on and we head off, first 200 meters, then stop while the driver changes ends again, and then on up. A few minutes later we are looking down on the station we just left and all the locals are waving.

The views down to the valley and across to the Kirishima Mountains become quite stunning and the train stops several times to allow photos to be taken. The next station is Yatake, about 550 meters in elevation, another small wooden building. We stop here for 5 minutes for photo ops with an old steam engine in a shed next to the station. And then we start to descend, stopping one more time for views over Hitoyoshi and the Kuma River Valley.

On the final descent into Okuba Station the train line does an almost complete 360 degree loop before stopping while the driver once again changes ends for the switchback. Another old wooden station, though the interior of the waiting room is completely covered in meishi, business/name cards. Not sure when the "tradition" started but many of the passengers are busy affixing their own cards or reading the ones on walls. I head off.

The sky is still light but this side of the mountain is in shadow and sunset is not far away. I want to get down as far as I can before looking for a place to sleep. The road is steep and windy. I pass under the expressway that crosses the narrow valley on tall concrete stilts.

It's starting to get dark when I reach the main road, but there is a nice wide sidewalk so I keep pushing on though my eyes are constantly scanning for a possible place to sleep - an abandoned farm building, substantial bus shelter etc.

Just as its getting completely dark I pass a big construction company site. At the edge of the property, far from the main buildings and warehouses are a cluster of railway wagons being used for storage. It's not perfect, but at least I will be hidden from view, and it's now so dark that it will be difficult to find anywhere better.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 39 Part 1

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Japan News This Week 10 August 2014

今週の日本

Japan News.
500,000 Told to Evacuate as Typhoon Strikes Japan
New York Times


Typhoon Halong triggers evacuation orders in Japan
BBC

Anime producer Studio Ghibli may have made its last film
Guardian

Okinawa: pocket of resistance
Japan Times

"How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Saved Millions of Lives"
The Diplomat

Political Protest in Interwar Japan
Japan Focus

Where Xi leads, Abe follows? China, Japan compete in Latin America
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Alcohol consumption in Japan 7.6 litres per capita

Source: Nationmaster

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Nagasaki Atomic Bombing Anniversary 2014

長崎, 原子爆弾

Nagasaki Peace Memorial

Today, August 9th is the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the second city in Japan after Hiroshima, three days earlier to be devastated by a nuclear bomb dropped by the American Air Force during World War II.

The original, intended target was the industrial city of Kitakyushu to the north of Nagasaki but the target was changed due to prevailing cloud cover on the day.

The day will be marked by solemn memorial services in the port city on the western coast of Kyushu, including an annual address by the Mayor of Nagasaki as he delivers a Peace Declaration to the World.

A solemn prayer is held at 11.02am, the exact time of the bombing and the mayor of Nagasaki will repeat his pleas for a nuclear-free Japan, given extra emphasis this year as the LDP-led government gradually tries to reopen nuclear reactors closed since the 2011 tsunami and subsequent meltdown of nuclear facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.


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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Kodo Sawaki - Japan's "homeless" Zen Buddhist priest

澤木興道

The Soto school of Zen Buddhism is the major branch of three in Japan, the other two being Rinzai Zen and Obaku Zen.

Soto is distinguished by a very free type of meditation that purposely sets itself no focus.

Soto Zen derives from the Chinese Chan Buddhist sect, the Caodong school, founded in the 9th century by Dongshan Liangjie (807-869), and introduced to Japan by the Japanese priest Dogen (1200–1253) in the 13th century.

One of the twentieth century's most prominent practitioners of Soto Zen in Japan was the priest Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965).

Kodo Sawaki statue in Sengakuji Temple, Tokyo, Japan.
Kodo Sawaki statue in Sengakuji Temple, Tokyo

I encountered Sawaki while writing a guide to Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo. While Sengakuji's main reputation is as the burial place of the 47 Ronin, it is a Soto Zen temple, and has had a bronze statue of the Zen scholar, Kodo Sawaki, there since 1988.

Kodo Sawaki was born in the city of Tsu, Mie prefecture, and grew up in difficult circumstances, raised by a gambler of an uncle after his father died while Kodo was only 7—his mother already having died when he was 3. The uncle himself died when Kodo was a teenager, leaving him on his own in the world.

Sawaki was drafted to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. He then became a Zen teacher and by his 50s was teaching religion at Komazawa University.

He acceded to management of a temple in Kyoto, Antaiji, in 1949, but did not settle down there. Rather he remained more or less peripatetic, traveling throughout Japan and overseas on teaching missions.This was something of a break with tradition, and although he did have a regular abode, earned him the epithet "Homeless Koto."

Kodo Sawaki's lectures and writings were published throughout his lifetime and are still widely available. He was widely influential, and mentored at least two priests who spread his teachings in the West, and several more active in Japan.

Sawaki's style of Zen meditation was purely Zen for Zen's sake, and a famous quote of his is that "Zen is simply sitting there, not for the sake of this, that or anything."

Sawaki's body was donated to science after he died.


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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima Anniversary 2014

広島

The atomic dome in HiroshimaToday, August 6th is the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and three years on from Japan's latest, on-going nuclear disaster in Fukushima on March 11, 2011, which still remains to be resolved.

Indeed, the present LDP government plans to gradually reopen Japan's nuclear reactors which were shut down in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

The government has also re-interpreted Japan's post war constitution to allow Japan's military greater wiggle-room to take part in conflict.

Ceremonies will take place in Hiroshima Peace Park as usual and throughout Japan to remember the approximately 140,000 victims of Japan's first but not only nuclear disaster.

The attack on Nagasaki occurred three days later on 9th August, 1945. Around 50,000 people are expected to attend the event in Hiroshima this year.


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