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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yuushien Garden

由志園

Yuushien Garden is a beautiful Japanese walking garden with restaurants on the small island of Daikonshima in the Nakaumi lagoon near Matsue. Famous for its peonies, the garden has plants flowering in all four seasons. May is the time to see peonies en mass.

A classic Japanese circuit garden with pine trees, carp-filled ponds, island and bridges; there are beautiful camellias in spring, hydrangeas and iris in summer, red maples in autumn and, of course, snow-covered scenes in winter.

Yuushien Garden

Yuushien Garden has 3 restaurants (Tel: 0852 76 2255 open -11am-4pm) "Zen", "Momiji" and "Shobu" which offer a variety of tasty set courses made from local ingredients: maguro donburi, beef donburi, soba noodles, eel, tempura, seafood. Ginseng, a Daikonshima specialty is used in many dishes.

Yuushien Garden

There is also a shop selling local Japanese food delicacies including peony jam, rice crackers (senbei) and Japanese confectionary.

Yuushien Garden
1260-2 Yatsuka-cho
Matsue City
Shimane
Admission to the garden: 600 yen
Hours: 8.30am-5.30pm

Yuushien Garden

Daikonshima is connected to the mainland by bridges. Buses from Matsue Station take about 25 minutes. The nearest station is JR Sakaiminato and then a bus.

The images for this article were kindly summitted by a reader and if you have an attraction in Japan you would like to see presented on this site please contact us with the details and any photos you may have, we'd be happy to publish them.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nagoya Festival 2009

名古屋まつり

Listen to the sound of Nagoya Festival

The upcoming weekend of 3-4 October sees the annual Nagoya Festival, the 55th festival so far.

Nagoya Festival 2009

Nagoya's biggest festival takes place over two days in various parts of the city, including daily parades of large floats with around 700 participants in period samurai costume parading down Otsu dori celebrating Japan's and Chubu's three great medieval warlords: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Other events include marching bands, flower parades, open-car parades, kagura, and lots of children's activities. Representatives from Nagoya's sister cities of Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nanjing, Sydney and Turin will be present and there are stage performances from artists from the various sister cities.

Nagoya Festival 2006

Events take place outside City Hall, Nagoya Station, Nagoya Castle, at Oasis 21 and even small side events at Chubu International Airport - Nagoya's main gateway to the outside world.




Guide To Nagoya

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Nagoya Festival Homepage (Japanese)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Privilege Gary McLeod

Privilege Gary McLeod

"Immigration is a privilege. Refugees flee persecution to a foreign haven. Workers, skilled and unskilled, move abroad for better - or simply different - experiences and opportunities. Becoming an expatriate can be both a personal choice - as well as an adventure. Only visas and their ilk spoil the sense of fun."

This is how Gary McLeod introduces his photograph exhibition of portraits of foreign English teachers in Japan that was showing at
Zuishoji Art Projects in Shirokanedai between 17 & 23 September.

McLeod is a young photographer and researcher. His doctoral research is on the H.M.S. Challenger, a British ship that made a voyage of scientific research, visiting every continent in the world between 1872 and 1876 with a team of experts on board from a wide range of fields. One of the most memorable results of the voyage for those back in Britain at the time was the collection of photographs taken of "natives" from everywhere the ship had landed, including those of Japan.



In "Privilege," McLeod has also taken "natives" as his subjects: English "native speakers" in Japan. More than that, he has consciously incorporated the technology of his period of research into the project by using a Dallmeyer lens from the 19th century, made in England, on the digital camera he used. This had the effect of drastically reducing the scope of the photos he was able to take, meaning he had to shoot the numerous small portions of the subject that the lens allowed him, and then put the sections together using software, to produce the distinctive mosaic-style "Privilege" result.

The squares of different tone had the effect of training the eye on the various parts of the subject that they overlapped, block by block. I was particularly fascinated by how look in the eye, in particular, of each subject, was accentuated by the technique, almost eerily, to the point of recreating, perhaps, the sense of wonder that the nineteenth century still felt for photography.

Gary McLeod's website is at http://www.garymcleod.co.uk/

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Japan This Week: 27 September 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.The Letter From Iwo Jima

New York Times

Honda unveils U3-X – a battery-powered unicycle

Guardian

"It's Dante's Inferno for Dolphins"

Global Post

Japan launches probe of secret pacts with US

Washington Post

30 more Filipino caregivers bound for Japan this month

Japan Times

Les enjeux d'une semaine internationale chargée

Libération

Japan Airlines requests bail-out

BBC

Japan’s new PM writes IOC backing Tokyo 2016 bid

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

According to a Yomiuri - BBC survey, 72% of Japanese "sense economic disparity" - that wealth is distributed unfairly. Results for other countries are shown below. (The percentages represent the percent of responses that feel wealth distribution is unfair.)

1. France 84%
2. Russia & Turkey 77%
3. Germany 76%
4. Philippines 74%
6. Japan 72%

Britain 57%
USA 55%

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

Alcoholics in Japan are more likely to commit suicide. 40% of reformed alcoholics "wanted to commit suicide in the past." Twenty percent have attempted to do so.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

Unemployment rates in advanced economies:

Spain: 19.3%
Ireland: 13%
Germany: 10.7%
France: 10.3%
USA: 10.1%
Britain: 9.1%
Japan: 5.5%

Source: IMF

33% of Japanese men sit on the toilet when urinating, according to a survey by Toto.

Source: Kyodo

668 Asiastic black bears have been caught and 586 have been killed up to July this year. 1,375 were killed last year.

Japan Bear & Forest Association

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hirano Shrine Kyoto

Hirano Shrine平野神社

Kyoto's Hirano Shrine is not on the A-list of temples and shrines in the World Heritage Site-heavy city.

It is however a pleasant shrine that is worth a visit.

The shrine is long in history and its grounds full of beautiful cherry trees - there are over 80 different varieties, some extremely rare.

Located a ten-minute walk south of the Golden Pavilion, not far from both Ritsumeikan University and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, it is best known for the cherry blossom parties held every year in April.

The first of these hanami parties was held in 985, and they have been held annually ever since. The week of cherry blossoms attracts a number of stalls offering snacks, beer and traditional games for the Hirano-no-Yozakura night cherry blossom viewing.

Hirano itself was founded in 794, though the present buildings date from the early 17th century and are registered as "Important Cultural Properties."

The grounds are free and have a spectacular 400-year-old camphor tree.

Access

By bus from Kyoto Station, take the #205 or #50 to Kinugasa Komae. From Sanjo Keihan, take #15 and get off at the same stop. From Shijo Omiya (Hankyu Railways), take #55 to the same stop.

Tel: 075 461 4450
Hirano Miyamoto-cho 1, Kita-ku, Kyoto

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Hirano Shrine
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Kachoen Matsue Vogelpark

花鳥園

Kachoen Matsue Vogelpark is a recommended attraction if you are visiting Matsue in Shimane Prefecture in south western Japan. The park is a superb presentation of flowers and birds in a lovely natural setting.

Birds on display that visitors can get up close and friendly with include ducks, emus, parrots, pelicans, penguins, swans and a seemingly endless variety of tropical birds. Birds of prey including eagles, hawks and owls are also shown to visitors by their expert handlers.

Kachoen Matsue Vogelpark

The large flower gardens include beautiful plantings of begonias, fuchsias and geraniums.

Matsue's Kachoen is part of a larger chain of bird and flower theme parks with sister sites in Kobe (Tel: 078 302 8899), Fujinomiya city in Shizuoka (Tel: 0544 302 8899) and Kakegawa Vogel Park also in Shizuoka (Tel: 0567 62 6363).

Kachoen Matsue Vogelpark is popular with couples and families especially on weekends and public holidays.

Kachoen Matsue Vogelpark

There are restaurants serving local food and a cafe on site.

The images for this article were kindly summitted by a reader and if you have an attraction in Japan you would like to see presented on this site please contact us with the details and any photos you may have, we'd be happy to publish them.

Access

Kachoen

52 Ogaki-cho
Matsue-shi
Shimane
690-0263
Hours: 9am-4.30pm
Admission: Adults 1050 yen; 6-12 year old children 525 yen

Take the train to Matsue Vogel Park Station from Matsue or Izumo on the Ichibata Railway Kitamatsue Line. Matsue Vogel Park Station is the 5th station on the line heading west from the terminus at Shinjiko Onsen Station in Matsue.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wildlife in Yanaka Cemetery

Cat in Yanaka Cemetery Tokyo谷中墓地での野良猫と鴉

A recent visit to Tokyo's Yanaka Cemetery was pleasant and peaceful. It is just adjacent to the quaint area of Yanaka, which is also well worth a visit.

The spacious grounds of the cemetery are made for strolling, with beautiful cherry trees, many famous grave sites, and crisscrossing paths between the graves.

The most famous grave is that of Japan's final Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu.

After several wrong turns, we finally found it. Not another human in sight in this secluded part of the park.

Along the way, however, several cats and crows observed our lack of progress. Both are common throughout urban Japan.

They feed off the refuse to be found in plastic garbage bags (no metal or plastic cans in Japan; you just put out your garbage in plastic bags), reproduce, and foul the environment. Because the cats are "cute," some people feed them.

In defense of the thousands (millions?) of cats and crows, the former keep down the rodent population down and the latter lessen the load on Japan's overburdened landfills.

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Crow in Yanaka Cemetery Tokyo
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Student Trip Kyoto

Students in Kyoto Station修学旅行

One of the key experiences of all Japanese school children is the annual class trip.

Elementary school students usually have their first overnight outing in fifth grade, with a trip to a local mountain or seaside area for several nights.

They will study something related to the area itself - marine biology or forestry, for example - and to what they have been learning in class. In addition, there will be cookouts, singalongs, and campfires at night.

Junior and senior high school is a time for going a bit farther afield. Kyoto is the most popular destination, with Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, and Okinawa not far behind.

At certain times of year - spring and fall - Kyoto is overrun by students in their school uniforms. (Some weary Kyotoites refer to the students as "locusts" - black in appearance because they are at all times in school uniform - who twice a year descend on the city and devour all that comes before them.)

The (unfortunately dark) photo above is one such group. The students are squatting or sitting on the floor of bullet train area of Kyoto Station while their teachers bark orders above them.

Based on the snippets of conversation I overheard, they appear to be returning to Tokyo after a three-day stay in Kyoto.

Sayonara!

Student Trip, Kyoto


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Asashoryu

朝青龍

Mongolian born yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu is the bad boy of Japanese sumo wrestling but probably the most talented wrestler in the sport today.



Born in the Monglian capital of Ulan Bator, Asashoryu reached sumo's highest rank in 2003 and was the first Mongolian wrestler to do so. He is the trailblazer for the other Mongolians who have entered the sport in his wake including fellow yokozuna Hakuho.

Asashoryu has courted controversy throughout his career and was given a temporary ban by the Japanese Sumo Association in 2007 for feigning injury and withdrawing from a regional sumo tour to turn out in a charity soccer game in his homeland.

Asashoryu first came to Japan as an exchange student in Kochi and comes from a family of talented Mongolian wrestlers.

Asahoryu holds various records as a champion wrestler: he was the first yokozuna to win all six basho (tournaments) in a calendar year in 2005, the first yokozuna to be disqualified from a bout (after pulling on his opponent's hair) and the first yokozuna to make a court appearance to answer charges of match-fixing (which he won).

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Japan Visitor September Newsletter

ジャパンニュースレター

Subscribing to the Japan Visitor newsletter means you will receive all the latest news on our free Japan giveaways, special offers and Japan-reated competitions.

Take a look at September's Japan Visitor newsletter to see what you will receive in your email inbox.

Japan Visitor September Newsletter

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Au Revoir Simone in Tokyo



Au Revoir Simone is a three-girl band from Brooklyn, New York, who make electroncia/indie music. They came to Tokyo again on September 15, not to sing, but to DJ and meet the fans at the agnes b shop in Minami Aoyama.

Au Revoir Simone are Erika Forster (vocals/keyboard), Annie Hart (vocals/keyboard) and Heather D'Angelo (vocals/drum machine/keyboard), but, as they were not performing their music at this event, all we got to see were their very cool, eclectic choice in music, and their charming, party-on personalities.

There was a support act before they came on, of which you can see a little in the above YouTube vid - a bit too "supportive" in our opinion, as they performed for so long that there wasn't a huge amount of time left over for Au Revoir Simone.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Sumo Tournament Tokyo

相撲

Sumo is a sport of ritual and tradition.

Watch the video below to see the lead in to a day's main wrestling action at the annual September sumo basho (tournament) in Ryogoku Tokyo.



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Japan This Week: 20 September 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan’s New Prime Minister Takes Office, Ending an Era

New York Times

Japanese dolphin cull: 'A tradition going back to the 1600s'

Guardian

Cash for kids in Japan

Global Post

Death penalty opponent Keiko Chiba made Japanese Justice Minister

Times on Line

Plan to freeze part of extra budget OK'd

Japan Times

Une ère politique nouvelle s'ouvre au Japon, par Philippe Pons

Le Monde

Tokyo police act on train gropers

BBC

Bear attacks tourists in Takayama

BBC

Japan praises Ichiro Suzuki’s major league record

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Japan spends less on education, as a percentage of its GDP, than almost every other member state of the OECD.

In 2006, Japan's outlays towards public education came to 3.3% of its national budget. This put Japan in 27th out of 28 places.

The OECD average was 4.9%.

Germany 4%
South Korea 4.2%
USA 5%
France 5.5%
Denmark 6.8%
Iceland 7.3%

Source: Asahi Shinbun

Recently, in Kyoto, thirty-four-year-old monk Mitsunaga Endo completed the legendary Sennichi-kaiho, the thousand day walk that monks from Enryakuji Temple attempt.

He is the fiftieth monk since 1585 to complete the grueling 40,000 km hike on Kyoto's Mt. Hiei.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brazil Festival Tokyo

ブラジル 祭り 東京



Japan, and Tokyo especially, has a huge Brazilian community, mainly made up of Brazilians of Japanese descent. The annual Brazil Festival in Tokyo turns the Jingumae area of Shibuya ward into Brazil for a day with the kind of let-your-hair-down party atmosphere that just doesn't happen anywhere else in Japan.

The air is filled with the scent of great food cooking, the sound of get-up-and-dance rhythms, and the whoops and laughter of a crowd that won't stop having fun.

There were performances happening on stage, but unlike most events of this kind, the real buzz was amongst the crowd - wherever you were - and the music coming from stage was just one more sight and sound to fuel the party spirit.

The sun smiled on the day - making a pleasant change from a very cloudy summer for Tokyo in 2009 - and all those present laughed along with it.

Check out the YouTube video of footage from this year's Brazilian Festival in Tokyo.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Silver Week

シルバーウィーク

This weekend sees the first day of a five-day stretch of holidays that is being dubbed in the Japanese press as "Silver Week" in reference to "Golden Week" - a similar but longer run of public holidays that fall at the end of April and the beginning of May.

Silver Week


Monday is Respect For The Aged Day (Keiro no hi), followed by "Between Day" on Tuesday before Autumn Equinox Day (Shubun no hi) on Wednesday.

This is the first time that a five day period of holidays has fallen in September and businesses are hoping that the holiday period will boost domestic demand for tours and hotel and ryokan bookings.

Since a change in the law in 2000 public holidays falling on a Sunday meant a day off on the Monday - the so-called "Happy Monday" and any day sandwiched between two public holidays qualifies as a day off as well.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nagoya Friends @ Red Rock THIS SATURDAY (9/19)

Nagoya Friends 74th party in Nagoya!
at


  • Date: Saturday September 19th, 2009
  • Time: 18:30 - 21:00
  • Drinks will be served between 6:30pm-8:50pm.
  • Place: The Red Rock (2F Aster Plaza Building, 4-14-6 Sakae, Nagoya (very close to Sakae Station)
  • Fee: 3000 Yen
  • Dress code: Anything (Casual, etc)
  • Reservations: Not necessary but recommended and appreciated. Just show up to the party!
  • Over 25,000 Yen worth of exciting prize giveaways each month!

There will be free food along with free drinks (beers, wine, cocktail drinks and juices).
Our party is not a dinner party, but we will have light food & snacks.
Quantities are limited, so please come early! Please free to come alone or bring your friends.
EVERYBODY is welcome to join regardless of nationality/gender. Reservation is greatly appreciated.
About 125-150+ people are expected to attend. Approximately 55% female and 45% male, 70% Japanese and 30% non-Japanese.
Pictures from previous Nagoya Friends Parties.
Map & Directions
Contact: 080-3648-1666(Japanese) 080-5469-6317(English)
Get off at Sakae Station [Exit #13]
Red Rock Nagoya
The Red Rock (2F Aster Plaza Building,
4-14-6 Sakae, Nagoya (very close to Sakae Station)

The Red Rock is located behind the Chunichi Building in the Sakae business/shopping district.
Subway access from Sakae Station (serving the yellow and purple lines) Exit 13. It’s a big station connected to a huge underground shopping mall so you’ll need to do a little underground walking.
We’re also just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Tokyu and Precede hotels, and a 10 minute walk up Hirokoji Street from the Hilton Hotel in Fushimi.
Train Directions
  • From Nagoya Stn. take the Higashiyama Subway line to Sakae Station (GET OFF at Sakae Station!!) Take exit #13 and then walk straight AWAY from Hirokoji-Dori for about 3/4 of a block. TURN LEFT Red Rock is on the right side of the street in the middle of the block. Look for the sign on the sidewalk.

Sakae Station
Higashiyama Line

Cultural Migrants from Japan

Cultural Migrants from JapanCultural Migrants from Japan: Youth, Media, and Migration in New York and London

by Yuiko Fujita

Lexington Books
ISBN: 0739128914; 216 pp

This is an academic and readable book on young Japanese who choose to live in London or New York for cultural purposes - to become artists, dancers, DJs, etc - rather than for purely economic reasons.

The book traces the lives of some of these Japanese "cultural migrants" as they move from Japan to New York or London, then back to Japan again. This is done in a series of interviews with twenty-two migrants who express their views, ideas, opinions, prejudices, etc regarding their lives in London, Tokyo, or back in Japan.

A huge variety of reasons are presented for going abroad, and women appear to outnumber men. These migrants also gain a degree of independence when abroad (in particular being away from family), and some feel that they have reached a deadlock at work in Japan and need to go abroad for more opportunities.

The way the interviewees see their identity and/or the identity of Japan in the world, and how they view Western countries, makes for interesting reading. The images that many of them hold of New York and London prior to visiting these cities are very strong, and the influence of the media, in particular TV shows, is emphasized.

The book also includes discussions on identity in the context of the ideas of Nihonjinron ("theories of Japaneseness"), and the interviewees' sense of identity, often expressed positively (mainly for the men) and a little negatively (mainly for the women). The ideas that many of these young people hold relating to race and ethnicity changes when they live in London and New York; many of them make friends with Koreans and Taiwanese (arguably the countries that are culturally the closest to Japan), and find that their images of British people and Americans ends up being shattered, in both good and bad ways.

Some respondents claim their own hierarchy of racism, for example, looking down on other Asians, and many of the interviewees heighten their sense of nationalism when abroad. It was also particularly shocking to read of violence and racial taunts to some of the interviewees in both cities.

If there is any weakness in the book, it is this: a few months (or even a few years) is really not enough to understand and put in context the experience of living overseas, although it can be said that this often depends on the individual concerned. The reader comes away with the feeling that half of the interviewees have fleeting and superficial experiences abroad, while the other half find some depth to their time spent away from Japan and attempt to integrate and understand their unfamiliar surroundings, albeit for a short time.

Ultimately the book delivers an interesting mix of opinions and shows the sheer variety of views and the importance of focusing on individuals and individual experiences. Some of the interviewees returned to Japan and were later interviewed back home, and some remained abroad. In fact, one of the most important questions all of them faced was whether to stay or leave.

It is a shame that this book will not find a wider readership; it is academic in nature, which may put some off, but easy to read; unfortunately (as is the case for many academic works), it is expensive, and so may find a limited market, when it deserves a larger one.

David White

Buy this book from Amazon USA I UK I Japan

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Louis Vuitton Tokyo

Louis Vuitton Tokyo Store東京表参道ルイ・ヴィトン店

Earlier this week we introduced one of the amazing boutiques on Omotesando, the quirky Prada Building.

A work from the atelier of Herzog & de Meuron, it is one of the signature buildings in the area.

Another is the Louis Vuitton store farther back towards Harajuku Station.

It was designed by Jun Aoki and recently had its interior done by the peripatetic Takashi Murakami.

At night, it literally stops traffic.

The inside of the store is divided into five "volumes," each designed like Louis Vuitton trunks.

Access

Louis Vuitton Omotesando
5-7-5 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Store Hours: 11:00 AM -7:00 PM (Dec. 13-28, 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM)
Open year-round
Tel: 03-3478-2100

A ten-minute walk from Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line or Omotesando Station on the Tokyo Metro.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gay Shinjuku Ni-Chome Rainbow Festival 2009

レインボー祭り 新宿二丁目



2009 was a good year for Tokyo's gay community in that, unlike, last year, a public pride gathering took place - although unlike the very public Tokyo Gay Pride of 2007, this year's celebration was a little less "out" in the sense that it took place on the home turf of Shinjuku Ni-Chome, Tokyo's most popular gay area, part of the all day-all night Shinjuku station district.

This summer has been a cloudy, wet one, and, while the sun chose not to shine on August 30, the day of the festival, like a rainbow, the wet weather only brought out the fun ever more vividly - and it was thronged in spite of being a Sunday and work the next day.

Many bars, including the dance club most popular with both Japanese and foreigners, Arty Farty, the more Japanese oriented Arch, the chic party-animal Rehab Lounge, the causal Dragon Men, the cruisy GB, and the warm, friendly Usagi, among many others, all had special parties or happy hours for the Festival, and made sure the vibe stayed alive.

Unlike the Gay Pride Parade, the Rainbow Festival was not compartmentalized into scenes, but the various scenes were well represented all the same, from the femme to the butch, from the outlandish to the trad.

Ni-Chome buzzes everyday, but the Rainbow Festival brought out the spirit of togetherness more than ever.

2010: be there or square.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Prada Minami Aoyama Tokyo

Prada Minami Aoyama Tokyo南青山プラダ店

Some of the most extraordinary buildings in Tokyo are fashion boutiques.

A Who's Who of architects - Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, Herzog & de Meuron, Jun Aoki, Kengo Kuma, and more - has stamped its seal in particular on Omotesando and its environs.

Just beyond Aoyama Dori, Prada's Tokyo store is a striking 6-story glass building that curves out and back. The diamond-shaped glass panes appear like bubbles, and both highlight and somewhat obfuscate what is within.

Jacques Herzog's work was completed in 2003.

As a non-shopper, I don't often frequent high-end boutiques. Still, the Prada design is arresting and unconventional.

At both day and night, the reflection of light off the panels is playful and fascinating.

Below left, you can see the designers "signature" in one of the panels.


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Prada Minami Aoyama Tokyo
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Japan This Week: 13 September 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.Day Out: Near Tokyo, a City Shows Its Age, Proudly

New York Times

Health Care in Japan: Low-Cost, for Now

Washington Post

Could you pass your Yakuza GCSE?

Guardian

Japan continues to execute mentally ill prisoners

Amnesty International

Suntory aims to leap beyond Japan with Orangina

Times on Line

Hatoyama firm: MSDF tour to end

Japan Times

A Tokyo, la nouvelle majorité veut rééquilibrer ses relations avec Washington

Le Monde

Japan's space freighter in orbit

BBC

Ichiro's 2,000th US major league hit excites Japan

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

The US is no longer the world's most competitive economy, according to the World Economic Forum.

The top spot this year went to Switzerland.

3. Singapore
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. Finland
7. Germany
8. Japan
9. Canada
10. The Netherlands

13. United Kingdom

29. China

Source: Daily Yomiuri

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Photographs of Kyoto

京都

Enjoy these beautiful photographs of Kyoto by Japan-based photographer John Lander.




Kyoto Images - Images by John Lander

View images of Kyoto temples and shrines, Geisha in kimono, calligraphy, Kyoto markets and Japanese food.

More images by John Lander.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Tacos Bar Nagoya

タコスバー

There's some good news if you are a fan of Mexican food and live in the Nagoya area. A new Mexican restaurant has opened in Moriyama-ku, just up the road from Motoyama.
Tacos Bar is operated by the same team as the popular Las Delicias in Kamimaezu.


Tacos Bar Nagoya

Large portions (try the Mega Tacos) and doing a thiving trade in take outs, Tacos Bar has seating for around 20 people and is an informal, friendly cantina-style Mexican eatery. Lunch sets are as little as 500 yen. Favorites include Tacos de Picadillo (spicy beef) and Quesadilla. Vegetarian options available.


Tacos Bar Nagoya


There's a well stocked bar with Mexican beers and tequila and events every second and fourth Sundays. Vamos amigos!

Tacos Bar
Obata-chiyoda 14-3,
Moriyama-ku,
Nagoya
Google Map
tel: (052) 791-3807

Tacos Bar is situated at the Shiroshita crossroads, a 10 minute walk from Obata Station Exit 2 on the Meitetsu Seto Line or take bus #11 from Chayagasaka Station on the Meijo Subway Line. The restaurant is on the south-east corner of the Shiroshita intersection.

Turn left at the Obatamiya-mae intersection on Seto Kaido, then 400m towards Chiyoda-bashi.
Not far from Kinjo Gakuin Women's University. If coming by car turn north off Dekimachi Dori and drive past the Apita store on your right.
Parking spaces available.


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cicada

セミ

A cicada in the hand.

The cicada, or, in Japanese, the semi, is a constant aural feature of the Japanese summer. There are over 30 different varieties of cicada in Japan. In midsummer wherever you go, even in the middle of Tokyo, you are always in earshot of a cicada’s chirp. Go past a park, or anywhere with significant greenery, and the din is almost deafening. But by now, September, the days and especially the nights have become somewhat cooler, and, with that, the cry of the cicadas has been gradually losing its intensity.

Even at their peak, the cries you hear throughout the day are not from the same insects. Morning cries, afternoon cries, and evening cries are divided up between different species that typically cry at different times of the day.

A cicada in the bush.

Cicadas, or at least their cries, have a role in Japanese film and Japanese literature as indicators of summer heat, so hearing them immediately identifies the season being depicted as summer.

Little boys in Japan typically hunt cicadas in summer. Cicadas are very passive insects and can be easily caught and picked up – as I did in the above picture. And, close up, for all their image of hard-plated inaccessibility, they have some notable beauty spots – especially the green veins on the wings and the ruby red spots between the eyes.

Finally, cicadas are short lived, making them ideal candidates for haiku, which are all about the present moment and transience. Take the famous haiku by the poet Basho:

Cicada on my pillow
I reach for my paperweight -
Ah no, my brush

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Homeless in Ueno Park Tokyo

Homeless in Ueno Park, Tokyo上野公園のホムレス

On a recent walk through Yanaka Cemetery and its environs, we came out at Tokyo University of the Arts. It was festival day at the university, so the campus mood was festive.

Outside of the campus walls, though, just inside Ueno Park, the sight of hundreds of homeless men was a depressing reminder that all have not enjoyed equally the benefits of Japan's rise - and recent decline - among world economies.

A stone's throw from the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, which is currently exhibiting the collection of Egyptian artifacts from Turin, the men were sitting on benches or on the ground in the early fall heat.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum: Egypt Exhibit

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum Egypt Exhibit東京都美術館トリノ・エジプト展覧会

The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, in Tokyo's Ueno Park, is now exhibiting many pieces from Turin, Italy, called "Ancient Egypt in Torino."

The Museum is a ten-minute walk from Ueno Station and opens at 9 am.

The exhibit lasts until October 4th, and is very popular.

One the day I went, a large tour group from the provinces was swarming around every piece of jewelry, stone, or mummy. At times, it was three-deep.

Still, it is a wonderful - and wonderfully arranged - exhibit.

Go early and enjoy it.


Access

JR Ueno Station or via subway take the Ginza line or Hibiya line, a ten-minute walk

8-36 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007
Telephone : 03-3823-6921
Facsimile : 03-3823-6920

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Sumida River Tokyo

隅田川

Listen to an announcement on a Sumida River cruise

The 27km-long Sumida River flows through the heart of Tokyo into Tokyo Bay and along with the Arakawa River (荒川) is one of the major rivers in the city.


The Himiko Boat and Asahi Brewery Building
The Sumida River passes under 26 bridges on its way to the sea near Odaiba and past some of Tokyo's main areas of interest including Asakasa, Ryogoku, Hamarikyu Gardens, Shiodome, Nihonbashi and Tsukiji Fish Market.

Sumida River Tokyo

One of the best ways to get the feel of the river is on a Tokyo River Cruise. The journey takes in spectacular bridges, vast skyscrapers and the blue tarpaulin shacks of the homeless.

Tokyo Cruise Line operates five water bus lines:
Sumida River Line (Red)
Asakusa-Odaiba Direct Line (Gray)
Odaiba Line (Green)
Tokyo Big Sight Palette Town Line (Blue)
Museum of Maritime Science/Shinagawa Aquarium Line (Purple)

Sumida River Tokyo

There are water bus stops at:
Hinode Pier, Asakusa (Azuma Bridge), Hamarikyu Gardens, Toyosu, Harumi,
Tokyo Rinkai Fukutoshin Area, Palette Town, Tokyo Big Sight, Ooi Seashore Park and Shinagawa Aquarium.

Travel times are:
Asakusa to Hinode Pier (45 minutes)
Asakusa to Odaiba Seaside Park (50 minutes)
Hinode Pier to Odaiba Seaside Park (20 minutes)
Hinode Pier to Tokyo Big Sight (25 minutes)
Hinode Pier to Shinagawa Aquarium (50 minutes)

Rainbow Bridge

It is also possible to hire one of the company's boats starting at over 300,000 Yen for one hour.

Full information in Japanese, Chinese and English is available on the company's website.

Tokyo Cruise
Tel: 0120 977311
On the last Saturday of July, the Sumida River Fireworks Display can be seen over the river. Good vantage points are between Sakurabashi Bridge and Kototoibashi Bridge and between Komagatabashi Bridge and Umayabashi Bridge.



Tokyo's Sumida River Fireworks Festival is reputedly the oldest recorded fireworks tradition in the world, dating back to 1733 A.D.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Japan This Week: 6 September 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan's Victors Set to Abandon Market Reform

New York Times

A Political Blue Blood on His Own Path

Washington Post

Japan's first lady: 'Venus is a beautiful place'

Guardian

Japan prepares to challenge for global supremacy in mobile phones

Times on Line

DPJ to fast-track bill to fix pension fiasco

Japan Times

Au Japon, l'alternance marque "la fin de l'après-guerre"

Le Monde

Japan looks to robots to fill jobs

BBC

Netherlands post easy win over Japan in friendly

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

For the third month in a row, the Toyoto Prius hybrid was the best-selling car in Japan.

In August, 21,669 of the vehicles were sold.

The Honda Insight, also a hybrid, came in 7th, with 7,900 units.

Source: Kyodo News

For the first time in four years, the Sony Walkman outsold Apple's iPod.

In the week that ended August 30, the Walkman chalked up 43% of all portable music player sales. That exceeded Apple's 42.1%.

Source: Bloomberg

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Kansai Time Out Suspends Publication

関西タイムアウト

Sad news this month is the demise of Kansai Time Out magazine after 391 consecutive issues. The Kobe-based English-language magazine has suspended publication due to a slump in circulation and a fall in advertising revenue. Launched in February 1977 by David Jack and Sachiko Matsunaga, the magazine was one of the longest-running foreign publications in Japan and will be sorely missed in the Kansai region for its lively monthly listings of cinema, festivals and events as well as its informed articles on Japanese culture, music, travel and sport.

Kansai Time Out Suspends Publication

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Hirotada Ototake No One's Perfect

Hirotada Ototake No One's PerfectNo One's Perfect


by Hirotada Ototake
Kodansha International

ISBN: 4-7700-2764-8
226 pp
This memoir is easy to very read, but equally thought-provoking, and it was a best seller in Japan. It covers the childhood and young adulthood of Hirotada "Oto" Ototake, who, in a country obsessed with conformity, has always stood out--dramatically: he was born with tetra-amelia, a congenital condition leaving him without arms or legs.

Both Ototake and his parents are determined to give him as average a life as possible, and the story of their efforts--and successes--are what make this tale so extraordinary.

Enrolled at a mainstream school with no specific facilities for disabled students, Ototake confronts life with an almost relentless optimism. He joins the basketball team, partakes in numerous clubs and leadership positions, and implicitly demands, through his utter self-confidence and lack of self-consciousness, that his teachers and peers treat him like any other.

Throughout, Ototake narrates these challenges and triumphs in a tone that is almost childlike in its enthusiasm, but the reader should not be fooled into believing that this renders his story a simple one.

Ototake eventually enrolls at at Waseda University where he becomes an activist in support of maintaining "barrier free" environments across the country. It is here that he realizes the rather complex moral of his memoir, and what makes it so important politically for people, disabled and able alike, to read: that his "disability" is a gift that allowing him to positively impact the world by making it a more accessible place for all, and that rather than a symbol of lack, his body is actually a catalyst for this rare and powerful ability.
Tracy Slater, PhD
Buy this book from Amazon USA UK Japan

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Japanese Political Language

政治

As Yukio Hatoyama and his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to a landslide victory in Sundays's general election, we look at some election- (選挙, senkyo) related Japanese.

The Japanese word for politics is (seiji, 政治), a political party is (seito, 政党) and a politician is (seijika, 政治家). The new DPJ government (seifu, 政府) will wield political power (seiken, 政権) through the cabinet (naikaku, 内閣). Domestic politics is (naisei, 内政) and foreign policy is (gaisei, 外政).

The present administration (gyosei-fu, 行政府) is obviously a civilian government (minsei, 民政) as opposed to the military government (gunsei, 軍政) of the war years.

Japanese Political Language

Japan is a democracy (minshu-shugi, 民政主義) with a parliamentary system of government (gikai-seido, 議会制度) centered on the Diet (kokkai, 国会). The word for ministry is (sho, 省) - thus Ministry of Justice (homu-sho, 法務省) and (gaimu-sho, 外務省) - Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The DPJ is the party in power (yoto, 与党) with the LDP (jiyuminshu-to, 自由民主党) now the opposition (yato, 野党). As in America, the Democratic Party (minshu-to, 民主党) is in power with the Republican Party (kyowa-to, 共和党) in opposition.


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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Himakajima Beach

日間賀島

It's still warm enough to swim in the Pacific Ocean from the coasts of Himakajima and Shinojima islands off the Chita Peninsula, south of Nagoya city.

The main beach on Himakajima is Sunset Beach at the West Port of the island. The beach has a safety barrier in the water to prevent swimmers being swept away.

Himakajima is an easy and pleasant day trip from Nagoya and there are a number of ryokan and small hotels on both islands if you wish to stay longer and really experience the tranquillity and excellent seafood.

Himakajima

Both Himakajima ad Shinojima depend on fishing, mainly octopus and fugu (blowfish) for their livelihood with tourism as a secondary source of income. The islands attract amateur anglers and water-sports enthusiasts throughout the year. It is possible to experience a hands-on fishing trip with professionals and learn how to cast nets and catch octopus.

Himakajima

On Himakajima, bicycle hire for the day is available for 500 yen and visitors can cycle round the island or enjoy the 5km walk. There is an excellent sunset at the western port, where most of the island's development is located and an equally spectacular sunrise at the eastern port. The small town at the western port around Sunset Beach is built up into the cliffs and still has some attractively painted weatherboard houses.

Access

There are Meitetsu ferry connections to Himakajima from Kowa (20 mins), Irago, Shinojima and Morozaki (10 mins).

Himakajima

From Nagoya Station or Kanayama Station take a Meitetsu train to Kowa (47 mins), then it is a 5 minute walk left out of the station to Kowa Port or jump on the free shuttle bus. From Toyohashi take a Meitetsu bus to Irago (90 mins) then a ferry to the island (30 mins).
Return fares on the ferry to Himakajima & Shinojima are presently 2,270 yen.

Tourist Information
Tel: 0569 68 2388