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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Japan This Week 28 February 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Toyota Touted $100 Million Savings After Limiting Recall

New York Times

Toyota: Dems 'not industry friendly'

Politico

Japan fears US military row could escalate

Guardian

You say 'Toyota,' and I say 'Toyoda'

Washington Post

Una tragicomedia japonesa echa el cierre

El Pais

Shinjuku gay enclave in decline but not on the surface

Japan Times

Japan Transport Minister hints at cover-up at Toyota

Times Online

L'économie japonaise n'est pas aussi moribonde qu'on le dit

Le Monde

'My business with Japan is unfinished'

BBC

At Home, Toyota Finds Growing Disaffection Among Suppliers

New York Times

Japan Calls Hummer H3 Fuel-Efficient

New York Times

Yakisoba: Leeway Among the Noodles

New York Times

Korea’s Kim Yu-na dazzles in blue while Japan’s Miki Ando misses as Cleopatra

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Devastation caused by US B-29 raids over Japan during World War Two:

65 burned out cities
581 destroyed factories
158 square miles of cities reduced to ash
310,000 civilian casualties
412,000 wounded
9 million rendered homeless

Source: The New Yorker

According to Robert McNamara, Army Air Force statistician during World War II and later Secretary of Defense, the above raids caused 900,000 deaths in Japanese cities.

Source: "The Fog of War," directed by Errol Morris

In 2009, for the first time more advertising yen was spent on the Internet than on newspaper ads in Japan. (Percent rise or fall compared to the previous year.)

Newspaper: 6.7 billion USD (-18.6%)

Internet: 7.07 billion USD (+1.2%)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Japanese elementary school baseball

小学校の野球



Baseball is just as popular in Japan as it is in the United States and, as in the US, Japanese baseball starts young. Wherever you go in Japan, you will see - and especially hear - baseball being practiced on school playgrounds.

But Japanese baseball has the typically Japanese twist of being team-oriented in the extreme, and being bound by conventions. When it comes to form, you will never see any moves made that are not strictly according to the textbook, and the element of ritual when it comes to in-team and inter-team interactions is very strong.

Check out aspects of the above in this video taken of Japanese elementary school teams having a match in Tokyo, not far from one of Japan's hallowed baseball venues, Tokyo Dome. Once the game is over, every bit as much energy is expended on the post-game rituals as on the game itself, and the hierarchy of (adult) trainers/managers and (student) players features very strongly.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yakushima Island

Massive Cedar in Yakushima屋久島

Japan's Yakushima Island is an ecological wonder.

In recognition of that, it was designated a natural World Heritage Site.

Landing at the somewhat drab port on the jet foil from Kagoshima, we saw concrete and signs of typical Japanese construction. It was eight degrees centigrade and cloudy.

However, in the not so distant mountains snow could be seen.

En route to those hills, and the twenty-one percent of the island that is a UNESCO site, we stopped at a beautiful falls. Senpiro no Taki (Senpiro Falls) was an inspiration for filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. It is pictured below left.

After a short break, we pressed on up the mountains to the kigen sugi (BC cedar).

The tree is over three thousand years old and massive. While we were driving up the winding road into the mountains, a light snow began to fall.

A family of monkeys - smaller and with grayer fur than those on Honshu island - sat on the side of the road oblivious to us.

By the time we got to the famous cedar, snow covered much of the road and the branches on the trees.

The sheer size of the tree elicited cries of delight and amazement from a tour group already there.

Access

From Kagoshima City, the jet foil Toppy takes about two hours one way to the island.

Daily flights from Osaka's Itami Airport.

Getting around the island itself requires a rental car or hiring a driver.

Senpiro no Taki Waterfall Yakushima© JapanVisitor.com

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kyu




The word kyu 急 in Japanese – pronounced just like “Q” – means “quick, immediate, rapid.” It means “rapid,” “immediately,” “urgent,” “steep,” depending on the context.

Sono heya ni hairu toki, kyu ni kushami ga deru.
Whenever I enter that room, I immediately start sneezing.

Kyu ni kuraku natta.
It quickly got dark.

Sono kawa wa kanari kyu na nagare desu.
That river’s got a pretty strong current.

Probably the most common combination of kyu is kyuko 急行, or “express” as in an express train. Tokkyu 特急 is a “special express.”

Kyukyu 救急 means “emergency aid” as in a kyukyusha 救急車, or “ambulance.”

Kinkyuji 緊急時 means emergency - or, literally, a "time of emergency."

Sore dewa, kyu desu ga, kore de shitsurei shimasu.
Well, I know it's abrupt, but I'll take my leave here.


© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nagoya Friends - Party at Red Rock! THIS SAT! 2/27

Nagoya Friends 82nd party in Nagoya!
at


  • Date: Saturday February 27th, 2010
  • 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


© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nihongo Fun & Easy - a new way to learn Japanese

サバイバル初級日本語会話テキスト



Nihongo Fun & Easy – Survival Japanese Conversation for Beginners is a new Japanese language "textbook that is not 'textbook'" for English speakers, filling an until now largely ignored gap in the Japanese textbook market.

The linguistic leap from English to Japanese is a major one. The grammars of the two languages have nothing in common, and the writing systems are, if anything, even further apart. Unfortunately, most textbooks for English-speakers wishing to learn Japanese focus too much at the outset on these two most formidable hurdles: Japanese grammar and writing.

Four Japanese teachers from the Iidabashi Japanese Language School in Tokyo came to the rescue with Nihongo Fun & Easy. They developed it based on their extensive experience of teaching English speakers their native language.

I talked to two of the four textbook writers, Ms. Yukiko Ogata and Ms. Kana Sumitani (see photo at top).

The two authors made it clear throughout that the aim of Nihongo Fun and Easy is “to help beginner students, including those with no knowledge of the Japanese language, acquire natural-sounding, essential Japanese that can be used immediately in daily conversation.”
Their motivation for the project came directly from their observing that the kind of textbook they wanted was unavailable, and that the only way to get it was to do it themselves.

The focus is almost solely on Japanese as it is used, not as it is defined in “the textbooks.” Therefore, it is unique in that it frequently omits particles (the equivalents of “the,” “to,” “of,” “at,” etc.) that are difficult to use correctly for English-speaking learners of Japanese, but which, happily, are often omitted in everyday language by the Japanese themselves, or, even if used, can easily be done away with without compromising comprehension.

In other words, this textbook is the ultimate practical guide to getting across what you want to say, and to getting the drift of what you’re being told.

There are ample opportunities throughout Nihongo Fun and Easy for using what you have acquired and testing yourself. Everything, everything, everything is based on practical situations that the learner is sure to encounter in everyday life in Japan. Dialogs aplenty; abstraction, none. The end of each of the 12 chapters is enormously motivational with its simple device of inviting the student to check off a short list of “Now I can…” skills.

Nihongo Fun & Easy is liberally illustrated, and includes a CD. It is generously sized at over 200 pages, and reasonably priced at only 1,900 yen.

Read a review and buy this book on Amazon.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Sti Ski Lodge Niigata

Welcome to STI SKI LODGE located in the famous ski area of Ishiuchi, Niigata-ken, Japan.

Sti Ski Lodge Niigata

Prices for 2009-2010 season are:
23 DEC 2009 - until season close JPY 3900 per person per night including tax, no meals!

Minimum stay is 2 nights anytime!
Full kitchen facilities are available if guests wish to cook their own meals, dont forget to also bring your own food ingredients! We provide dishes, cutlery, pots, pans, salt, pepper, sugar, tea and coffee.

Sti Ski Lodge Niigata

We offer rooms for 4 persons each with shared bathrooms, no private facilities!

Central heating, Views, large lounge and cash bar!
Self service only, make your own beds, cook your own food, wash your own dishes, take your garbage back with you when you leave!

Access in winter to Lodge is by ski lift, skiing in or walking only!

Advantage is that you can ski down to the ski lifts on your way to the slopes and the 32 ski lifts in the area!

We need you to tell us by e-mail that you are coming so we can get ready for your arrival!

For reservations please contact us by e-mail only: STITYO@aol.com

Visit our blog for more details

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Japan This Week 21 February 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan’s Economy Grew 4.6% in Last Quarter of ’09

New York Times

Japanese ship detains anti-whaling activist

Guardian

Japan finmin tests waters for sales tax debate

Washington Post

La economía japonesa gana impulso pero sigue en deflación

El Pais

Ozawa rejects pressure to face Diet ethics panel

Japan Times

Japan quashes optimism despite GDP rise

Times Online

Washington prêt à un assouplissement au sujet de ses bases au Japon

Le Monde

Wake Up to Money

BBC

Japanese consumers tighten spending

Global Post

U.S. Wants to Know When Toyota Knew of Problems

New York Times

Japan FA Warns Coach Takeshi Okada Over 'Unacceptable' Performances

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

There have been 37 fatalities in 29 incidents on US roads involving runaway Toyota automobiles.

Source: USA Today

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Find A Parking Place In Japan

駐車場

Before you can purchase a car in Japan, you must have a registered parking place within 2km of your home.

Walk around where you live and look out for signs like these. The sign below means that there are places available.

Find A Parking Place In Japan

There's usually a telephone number you can call to arrange to rent a spot. You will receive a piece of concrete with maybe a number painted on it. You may also be expected to park your car with the front of the car pointing outwards, so be prepared to REVERSE into your parking area. Some temples and shrines also rent out their grounds as parking lots.

Rents can be anywhere from 70 USD a month in small towns to nearer 1000 USD a month in some areas of central Tokyo, though a norm of around 350 USD is the going rate in most neighborhoods in the capital outside the glitzy areas of say Ginza and Azabu.

Find A Parking Place In Japan


Fines for illegal parking can also be stiff and if you are towed away by the traffic police expect to pay around 400 USD to get your car out of the pound and be ready for some penalty points on your license.

The Kyoto police are especially keen on towing, so watch out, you have been warned!



© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nagoya Friends - Party at Red Rock! 2/27 (Sat.)

Nagoya Friends 82nd party in Nagoya!
at


  • Date: Saturday February 27th, 2010
  • 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


    © JapanVisitor.com

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    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Hallelujah at Tokyo Dome

    東京ドームのハレルヤ



    Tokyo Dome is one of the city's most famous sporting and entertainment venues. Strolling through the Dome's LaQua shopping and amusement park complex was this Japanese hip-hop/samba/rapper-style group revving up a very up for it crowd with "hallelujahs!". See and hear them for yourself!

    © JapanVisitor.com

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Kyoto Concert Hall

    Kyoto Concert Hall京都コンサートホール

    Completed in 1995, The Kyoto Concert Hall is the home to the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra.

    It was designed by Arata Isozaki, the principal architect for the Barcelona Olympic Pavilion.
    The complex is made up of three primary blocks: The Main Hall, The Ensemble Hall Murata, and the Foyer. In keeping with a Kyoto look, the exterior is subdued in color and design.
    Once inside, you follow a circular Entrance Hall up and around to the Main Hall (below left). The entrance hall was built with Florentine limestone. In the center of the Hall are twelve pillars that represent the twelve Asian zodiac symbols.
    The Main Hall has two balconies that surround the main audience and the stage area. Seating 1,839 people, the Hall has the largest pipe organ in Japan.
    We attended a recent performance that doubled as a lesson on what an orchestra is.

    The conductor lead the orchestra in a program of classics by Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Leonard Bernstein. Each piece was interspersed with the appearance of a popular tv comedy duo, Rozan, and their jokes and questions to the conductor.

    The conductor then answered the questions in simple terms - and then demonstrated with the next piece - for the many parents and children in attendance.

    Kyoto Concert HallAddress

    1-26 Hangi-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
    Tel: 075 711 3090

    Access

    1 minute walk from subway Kitayama Station on the Karasama Line.

    © JapanVisitor.com

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Beppu's Kannawa District

    鉄輪

    The Kannawa area of Beppu in Kyushu is the most spectacular of the city's hot spring (onsen) districts for steam enthusiasts.

    Beppu's Kannawa District

    Here are seven of Beppu's ten jigoku (hell) pools and the city's well-worth-a-visit Sex Museum.
    Hyotan Onsen (ひょうたん温泉) is Kannawa's best hot spring baths with rotemburo (outside bath), a sand-bath, sauna and a chance to sample food steamed naturally in the vapors of the thermal springs - known as jigoku mushi.

    Beppu's Kannawa District

    There are frequent buses to the area from Beppu Bus Station; get off at Umijigoku-mae for the hell pools. If driving from the ferry port go straight along route 500.

    Beppu's Kannawa District

    © JapanVisitor.com

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Shin Otoko Selection Ceremony

    儺負人選定式

    I've just got back from Konomiya, where the pillar-raising ceremony and the naoinin or shin-otoko selection ceremony has just taken place.

    A new wooden pillar (shime-bashira) with the words naoi shinji is erected in front of the main gateway (mon) to the shrine on the second day of the lunar new year.

    Pillar, Konomiya Shrine

    This year four candidates appeared to be selected by lot for the dubious "honor" of being chosen as the shin-otoko for this year's Konomiya Hadaka Festival.

    Konomiya's Hadaka Matsuri is a mass purification rite and has its origins in an attempt to dispel an outbreak of plague in 767. Upto 10,000 men dressed only in white loin-clothes will attend on the main day of the festival.

    Konomiya Shrine

    The Konomiya Hadaka (Naked) Festival takes place this year on February 26.
    Konomiya is small town just outside Nagoya and the first stop on the Meitetsu express train from Nagoya Station to Gifu.



    Access: Take a Meitetsu Line train from Nagoya Station bound for Gifu to Konomiya Station (north exit and then a short 3-minute walk) or a JR Tokaido Line train from Nagoya Station to Inazawa Station and then a 15-minute walk to Konomiya shrine.

    Konomiya Shrine
    1-1-1 Konomiya, Inazawa city
    Tel: 0587 23 2121

    Kagura Masks

    Festival Happi coats

    Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum

    関ヶ原歴史民俗所資料館

    The fascinating Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum (Tel: 0584 43 2665) is the place to start any tour of the famous site of the Battle of Sekigahara in central Japan.

    The two-story museum has a collecton of armor, helmets and weapons used in the battle including firearms, swords, pikes and some incredible ninja arms including even a blow-pipe. The special forces of their day, the ninja, who probably fought on both sides in the battle, had some fearsome tools for combat.

    Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum

    The ground floor of the museum introduces the Battle of Sekigahara (in Japanese) on a large video screen showing the position and movements of the forces and the opposing generals, while the second floor exhibits the collection of arms and armor.

    The Battle of Sekigahara took place on October 21, 1600 and ultimately lead to the establishment of the Tokugawa Bakufu under the control of the victorious Ieyasu.

    Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum

    Across the road from the museum is Jimbano - the site of Ieyasu's last camp during the battle. A 20 minute walk or short drive away is Sekigahara War Land (Tel: 0584 43 0302) just off National Highway 365.

    Sekigahara is a do-able day trip from Nagoya or even Kyoto. Take a JR Kaisoku (rapid) train bound for Maibara from Nagoya Station or change to a local train at Ogaki. The Sekigahara Tourist Office is outside the station (Tel: 0584 43 5559) and opens from 9am-2pm April to November.

    Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum


    Sekigahara Town History & Folklore Museum
    Hours: 9am-4.30pm; 9am-4pm (November-March)

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    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Japan This Week 14 February 2010

    今週の日本

    Japan News.Japanese Split on Exposing Secret Pacts With U.S.

    New York Times

    Oh, What a Feeling: Watching Toyota Flunk for Once

    New York Times

    Toyota undone by Japan's work ethic?

    Guardian

    American Air, Japan Airlines seek antitrust deal

    Washington Post

    El conflicto Nakamura

    El Pais

    Distributor hopes to screen 'The Cove' soon

    Japan Times

    A sceptic on Japan

    Times Online

    Toyota, l’histoire sans frein

    Libération

    Japan anger over Sea Shepherd 'attack' on whaling ship

    BBC

    Toyota Only Part Of Japan's Economic Woes

    NPR

    Fans object to Asashoryu’s retirement pay

    Yahoo Sports

    Last week's Japan news


    Japan Statistics

    Out of 5,067 Japanese polled, 36% said they slept separately from their spouse. Of those still sharing a bed or futon with their spouse, 42% replied they "wanted to sleep separately."

    Of those already sleeping separately, the top five "changes" were:

    1. Can sleep when you want (1,224 people)
    2. Can sleep deeply (945)
    3. Can go back to sleep (484)
    4. Estrangement from marital relations (i.e., little or no sex) (343)
    5. Less fatigue (321)

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    From the same poll, the age at which respondents first began sleeping separately from spouse:

    20s: 5%
    30s: 24%
    40s: 26%
    50s: 25%
    60s: 16%
    70s: 3%

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    85.6% of Japanese today support the death penalty. 8.6% replied "not sure," and just 5.7% said it should be repealed in an Asahi Shinbun poll. [Japan is one of only several developed nations that has the death penalty on its lawbooks - and carries it out.]

    Despite a low crime rate - and fewer murders than at any time since World War II - the number who support the death penalty has risen. In 1994, 73.8% supported capital punishment.

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    Homeless by age, Osaka

    2006: 30 and younger (15%), 40s (27.2%), 50s (44%), 60 and older (13.8%)
    2009: 30 and younger (33.2%), 40s (32.2%), 50s (29.4%), 60 and older (5.2%)

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    © JapanVisitor

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Hadaka Matsuri Konomiya 2010

    国府宮神社の裸祭り

    The Konomiya Hadaka (Naked) Festival takes place this year on February 26.

    Konomiya is small town just outside Nagoya and the first stop on the Meitetsu express train from Nagoya Station to Gifu.



    Like many festivals in Japan, Hadaka Matsuri has its roots in an attempt to dispel an outbreak of plague, when the local governor of Owari (present-day Aichi Prefecture) started the rite in 767. The boisterous behavior has sometimes got out of hand and lead to riots in the 16th century. Upto 10,000 semi-naked men usually attend and the crush and subsequent frenzy can be pretty scary.

    Konomiya matsuri bamboo pole


    The festival has a number of defined stages.

    On the second day of the lunar new year a post marked with the words "naoi shinji" is set up outside Konomiya Shrine, this will happen this year on February 15.

    An hour later at 10am a group of applicants arrive in the hope of being selected as that year's shin-otoko or ("god-man"). To be chosen as shin-otoko is considered a great honor, though a strange one in most people's eyes in view of what is to follow.



    A huge 4-ton rice-cake (mochi) is prepared and is presented to the shin-otoko on the eve of the main festival. For three days prior to the start of the matsuri the shin-otoko is kept alone, enclosed in a small hall in Konomiya Shrine. He is fed only rice-gruel and water and has all his body hair shaved off as part of the purification rite.

    The festival begins in mid-afternoon on the 13th day of the lunar new year when thousands of men dressed only in loincloths carry a bamboo pole covered with pieces of paper carrying the excuses of people who couldn't make it to the festival that year.

    When the shin-otoko appears from the shrine the assembled men - many of them aged 23 or 42 (ages considered unlucky or yakudoshi) - converge on the shin-otoko in an effort to touch him and thus pass on their bad luck and so rid themselves of evil.

    The shin-otoko's guards, who attempt to stop him getting killed in the crush, throw cold water on the crowds to help cool things down. The event can be dangerous and people have suffered injuries in the past.



    At 3am the next morning the shin-otoko carrying a "mud cake" on his back - symbolizing bad luck and calamity is chased away from the shrine and the mud cake is buried by the shrine priests. This part of the festival is known as yonaoi shinji.

    Later that morning the large rice cake presented earlier is cut up and distributed to worshippers. Eating the rice cake is supposed to ward off illness and misfortune.
    Access: Take a Meitetsu Line train from Nagoya Station bound for Gifu to Konomiya Station (north exit and then a short 3-minute walk) or a JR Tokaido Line train from Nagoya Station to Inazawa Station and then a 15-minute walk to Konomiya shrine.

    Konomiya Shrine
    1-1-1 Konomiya, Inazawa city
    Tel: 0587 23 2121

    Kagura Masks

    Festival Happi coats

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Kyoto Botanical Garden Conservatory

    京都市植物園

    Located in the north of Kyoto City, the Botanical Garden was built on land donated by the Mitsui family - yes, that Mitsui family - to the City to commemorate the enthronement of the Emperor Taisho, in 1924.

    It is the oldest botanical garden in Japan with over 12,000 plants.

    It has both European and Japanese-style gardens, and with its many cherry trees is a wonderful place in spring.



    The conservatory that appears in the video above was recently rebuilt and expanded. It requires a separate admission fee of 200 yen, although a combined admission of 250 yen is available.

    Open every day 9am-5pm. (Closed Dec 28 to Jan 4.) Admission 200 yen for adults. Kitayama subway station (Karasuma Line).


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    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Himeji Castle White Heron Castle

    Himeji Castle姫路城

    Himeji Castle, a World Heritage Site located in the town of Himeji west of Kobe and Osaka in western Japan, is Japan's best-known and most-visited castle.

    It is known as the Shirasagijo, or White Heron Castle, because of its bright white exterior.

    The complex of more than 80 buildings was built between 1333-1346, and then from 1601-1608 major expansion work took place.

    It has a complicated series of paths - for defensive purposes - that lead into the main structure.

    The castle miraculously survived World War Two bombing and neglect.

    The castle has appeared in several films. In the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Himeji Castle was the training center for Tiger Tanaka's band of ninjas. It also served as a location for Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha and Ran. More recently, Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai used the Castle as a background.

    This photo, taken on a sunny day in December, shows the Castle from Himeji Station. The main street in Himeji is decorated with flower-covered bollards.


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    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Basic Workshop in Core Shamanism Tokyo Kyoto

    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies
    シャーマニズム研究財団

    The Basic Workshop in Core Shamanism (Weekend)

    Kyoto: March 13-14, 2010
    Tokyo: March 27-28, 2010

    "Shamanism is a path of knowledge, not of faith, and that knowledge cannot come from me or anyone else in this reality. To acquire that knowledge, including the knowledge of the reality of the spirits, it is necessary to step through the shaman's doorway and acquire empirical evidence."

    Michael Harner, Ph.D.
    FSS Founder and President
    Author of The Way of the Shaman

    Core Shamanism

    Core shamanism is the universal or near-universal principles and practices of shamanism not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective, as originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner. Since the modern world overwhelmingly lost its shamanic knowledge centuries ago due to political and religious oppression, the Foundation’s programs in core shamanism are particularly intended for modern peoples to reacquire access to their rightful spiritual heritage through quality workshops and training courses. Training in core shamanism includes teaching students to alter their consciousness through classic shamanic non-drug techniques such as repetitive drumming so that they can discover their own hidden spiritual resources, transform their lives, and learn how to help others. Core shamanism does not focus on ceremonies, such as those of Native Americans, which are part of the work of medicine men and women, persons who do both shamanism and ceremonial work.

    Michael Harner's
    The Way of the Shaman: Shamanic Journeying, Power, and Healing

    The Basic Workshop in Core Shamanism (Weekend)

    Kyoto: March 13-14, 2010
    Tokyo: March 27-28, 2010

    During the Basic experiential workshop, participants are introduced to core shamanism, the universal and near-universal basic methods of the shaman to enter non-ordinary reality for problem solving and healing.

    Particular emphasis is on the classic shamanic journey, one of the most remarkable visionary methods used by humankind to explore the hidden universe otherwise known mainly through myth and dream. Participants are initiated into shamanic journeying, aided by drumming and other techniques for experiencing the shamanic state of consciousness and for awakening dormant spiritual abilities, including connections with Nature. Practice includes comparisons by participants of their discoveries in shamanic journeys as well as being introduced to shamanic divination and healing. They are also provided with methods for journeying to meet and study with their own individual spirit helpers in nonordinary reality, a classic step in shamanic practice. Participants learn how the journey is utilized to restore spiritual power and health, and how shamanism can be applied in contemporary daily life to help heal oneself, others, and the Planet. Basic and Advanced courses to be continuously offered in Japan and Asia.

    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies Faculty for Asia: Kevin Turner

    Tel/fax: 075-723-4379

    Kevin Turner’s English bio: shamanism.org
    Kevin Turner's site: shamanism-asia.com

    English website: shamanism.org
    Japanese website: shamanism.org/japanese

    シャーマニズム研究財団

    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies

    「シャー マニズムとは、知識の道であって信仰の道ではない。そしてその知識は、私や或はこのリアリティ(現実)における他の誰からも得ることは出来ない。精霊達の 現実に関する知識を含むこの知識を身につけるには、シャーマンの門戸をくぐり、自らの経験を通して証拠を掴んでいかねばならない。」

    マイケル・ハーナー Michael Harner, Ph.D
    シャーマニズム研究財団創設者及び財団長
    『シャーマンへの道』著者


    コア・シャーマニズム
    Core Shamanism

    コア・シャーマニズム(核心のシャーマニズム)とは、マイケル・ハーナーが考案、研究、発展させた、シャーマニズムにおけるほぼ普遍的と言える原理とその 実践のことであり、いかなる特定の文化組織や観点とも結びつくものではない。シャーマニックな知識の大方は、政治的/宗教的弾圧が原因で、何世紀も前に甚 だしく失われてしまった。その様な背景から当財団のコア・シャーマニズムのプログラムは、現代人が良質のワークショップやトレーニングを通して、正当な精 神的文化遺産との繋がりを取り戻せるようにすることを意図している。コア・シャーマニズムのトレーニングでは、参加者が意識を変性させていく際に、繰り返 されるドラムの音の様な伝統的シャーマニズムの非薬物的手法を使い、参加者がどのように自らの隠された精神的源泉を発見し、人生を変容させ、また他者の助 けとなっていけるか、ということも教えられる。コア・シャーマニズムは、例えばネイティブアメリカン達が行う様なセレモニー(儀式)には主眼を置かない。 これらは、シャーマニズムと儀式行為の両方を行うメディスンマンやメディスンウーマン達の仕事の一部である。

    シャーマンへの道:シャーマンの旅、パワーとヒーリング

    コア・シャーマニズム公式ベーシックワークショップ

    The Way of the Shaman workshop

    ベーシックの体験的ワークショップでは、参加者はシャーマンのほぼ普遍的基本体系であるコア(核心の)・シャーマニズムに触れ、問題解決やヒーリングの為 に非日常的リアリティへと入っていく。 ここで特に重要視されるのが古典的なシャーマンの旅である。これは、人類が隠された宇宙を探究する為に使った、最も注目に値する先見的な手法であり、この 手法無しには、隠された宇宙は主に神話や夢を通してのみしか知り得ないものであった。 参加者はシャーマンの旅をする手ほどきを受け、ドラムの音やその他のテクニックの助けを得ながらシャーマン的意識状態を体験し、大自然と繋がることを含む 眠っているスピリチュアルな能力を目覚めさせていく。 またシャーマンの旅の中での発見について、参加者同士で話し合ったり、シャーマンの直感的予見やヒーリングにも実習の中で触れていく。 更に、旅をする中での非日常的リアリティにて自らのスピリットヘルパーと出会い、そこから学んでいくというシャーマンの実践に於ける古典的ステップの方法 も伝授される。 このように参加者達は、この旅が如何にして自らのスピリチュアルなパワーや健康を回復させるのに役立つのか、また如何にしてシャーマニズムが現代の日常生 活の中で自分や他人を癒したり、この惑星を癒すことに適用できるのかを学ぶ。

    マイケル・ハーナーによるコースデザイン講師:ケヴィン・ターナー

    ■ 京都市:3月13日(土)〜14日(日)定員18名
      シャーマニズム研究財団公式コース
      シャーマンへの道 (通訳あり)33,000円

    ■ 東京都世田谷区:3月27日(土)〜28日(日)定員18名
      シャーマニズム研究財団公式ワークショップ
      シャーマンへの道 (通訳あり)33,000円

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    Tuesday, February 09, 2010

    Valentine's Speed Dating @ TsurumaiTHIS SATURDAY (2/13)

    Nagoya Speed Dating is holding it’s 10th party in Nagoya!


    • Date: Saturday February 13th, 2010
    • Time: 6-9pm registration from 6:00 to 6:30pm
    • Drinks will be served between 6:30pm-8:50pm.
    • Place: Nagoya Tsurumai City Public Hall, 1-1-3 Tsurumai (very close to JR Nagoya Station)
    • PREPAY FEE : Men 2500, Women 2000. *includes 1 free drink and light food*
    • 40 couples only! 40 men and 40 women! Reserve and prepay to join!
    • AT THE DOOR: Men 3000 yen, women 2500 yen. Price includes 1 free drink and light food
    • Dress code: Anything (Casual, etc)
    • Reservations: PrePaid spots are Guaranteed! Only 40 men and 40 women. Reserve and prepay to secure your spot.

    Nagoya Speed Dating is a great way to meet new people in the Aichi, Gifu and Mie Areas! At Nagoya Speed Dating, you will receive a number, an assigned table, and a personalized Speeding Ticket form. When the host says to start you will have between 3 to 5 minutes to talk to the person at your table. When the time is up the host will give you a signal. At that time the men will change tables and the women will remain seated. All you have to do is mark your speeding ticket with a yes or a no for each person. At the end of the event, the tickets will be analyzed and Nagoya Speed Dating will notify you of your matches. After that you will also receive contact info for the people you have matched with. Nagoya Speed Dating is a safe, easy, and fun way to meet new people. Come check out Nagoya Speed Dating!
    Map & Directions
    Contact: 080-3648-1666(Japanese) 080-5469-6317(English)
    Get off at Tsurumai Station (JR Chuo Line [South Exit] or Subway Tsurumai Line [Exit #4])
    Nagoya Tsurumai City Public Hall, 1-1-3 Tsurumai
    Train Directions
    • From Nagoya Station from Nagoya Station take the JR Chuo-Honsen Line and get off at the second station (Tsurumai). From Tsurumai Station, get off at south exit
    • From Sakae/Fushimi Area, catch the Tsurumai Subway Line at Fushimi Station(bound for Akaike) and get off at the third (3rd) stop - Tsurumai. From Tsurumai Station, get off at exit #4
    Tsurumai
    Tsurumai Station
    JR Chuo Line/Tsurumai Line


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    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Peruvian Band Busking In Japan

    ペルーの音楽

    A Peruvian combo dressed in ponchos and displaying some nifty footwork are a fixture at Kanayama Station in Nagoya on weekends. This performance was cut short by the arrival of the Japanese police with one young clip-board toting officer, politely tapping his feet to the beat and waiting for a break in the music before moving in to have a quiet word.



    We left at this stage but when we returned about 5 hours later the guys were still going strong. I will try to find out exactly what the law is regarding buskers in Japan. If you know, please leave a comment below.


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    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    Japan This Week 7 February 2009

    今週の日本

    Japan News.Prius Brake Inquiry May Be Another Blow for Toyota

    New York Times

    One Noodle at a Time in Tokyo

    New York Times

    Honda profits accelerate with six-fold quarterly rise

    Guardian

    Sharp posts $100 million profit on cost cuts

    Washington Post

    El primer Murillo llega de Japón

    El Pais

    Ozawa expected to duck charges

    Japan Times

    Don’t write Japan off. The giant is stirring

    Times Online

    Un Chinois met fin à sa protestation de trois mois à l'aéroport de Tokyo

    Le Monde

    Close encounters with Japan's 'living fossil'

    BBC

    "Tokyo Vice": Underground with the Yakuza

    Global Post

    Japan Look For Positives After Goalless Draw At Home To Venezuela

    Yahoo Sports

    Last week's Japan news


    Japan Statistics

    Number of Japanese Self Defense Force troops stationed abroad in PKO missions: 39 soldiers (six in Nepal, thirty-one in the Golan Heights, two in Sudan)

    World PKO participation rank, based on number of troops stationed abroad: 85th

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    2009 witnessed the lowest number of murders in Japan in the postwar period. Just 1,097 murders were recorded in all of Japan last year.

    Compare that to 1954, in which some 3,081 people were murdered in Japan. The total stayed above 2,000 through most of the 1970s.

    Even with a slight rise at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, the number has not hit 1,500 since 1987.

    Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

    Percentage of transnational marriages (2008):

    Taiwan: 14%
    South Korea: 11%
    Japan: 5%

    Percent of out of wedlock births (2006):

    USA: 38.5%
    France: 50.4%
    United Kingdom: 43.7%
    Sweden: 54.7%
    Italy: 20.7%
    Japan: 2.1%
    Singapore: 1.4%
    South Korea: 1.5%
    Taiwan: 4.2%

    Source: Asahi Shinbun

    Average number of below-zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) days in Tokyo:

    1931-1960: 50.5 days/year
    1941-1970: 43.2 days/year
    1951-1980: 27.8 days/year
    1961-1990: 19.5 days/year
    1971-2000: 10.2 days/year

    Source: Kyodo News

    © JapanVisitor

    Saturday, February 06, 2010

    Trouble on Manseibashi

    万世橋 映画



    You see it all in Tokyo’s electronics mecca, Akihabara (“Akiba” for short). A hang out for gaming nerds, stereo enthusiasts, music freaks, loli-goth girls, and all sorts of subculture clones, you come expecting some oddness.

    I was in Akiba on Sunday, and was surprised to see a very odd sight, even for this area: a quite well-dressed, if retro-looking, guy with a suitcase staggering across came across Mansei-bashi Bridge – obviously in a very bad way. Moments later I realized that the small crowd that I thought had gathered around him was actually a film crew. They were filming a scene from what was clearly a period movie, and this guy’s troubles were no doubt the pivotal scene of a terebi dorama (i.e., soap opera), or perhaps even a movie.

    Scenes of everyman gritty but seemingly hopeless determination, noble but doomed heroism, and lonely tribulation are staples of a certain very popular genre of Japanese entertainment. The Great Depression look typified by the Tora-san movies and done in the scene I saw – with his cloth cap and old-style leather suitcase - is also often seen.

    I don’t know if the actor is famous or not, but looking at the meager numbers of people involved in the filming, it did not give the feel of being a big budget production. Check out the YouTube video.

    And let us know if you recognize him!

    © JapanVisitor.com

    Friday, February 05, 2010

    Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

    さっぽろ雪まつり

    The Sapporo Snow Festival starts today and will run until 11th February. The opening ceremony begins at 6.30pm at Minami 4 Nishi 4.

    Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

    The main sites for the various ice and snow sculptures are: Odori Park, Tsudome and Susukino - the main entertainment area of Sapporo.

    Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

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

    Sapporo Snow Festival 2010
    Tel: 011 211 2376

    Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

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

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Asashoryu Quits Sumo

    相撲

    Grand champion Asashoryu has announced he is quitting sumo in the wake of his latest scandal.

    The 29-year-old Mongolian is alleged to have punched and broken the nose of a man after a drinking binge at a night club in the capital during the New Year tournament.



    At a press conference at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, the yokozuna (real name Dolgorsurengiin Dagvadorj) tearfully announced: "I caused trouble to a lot of people and I feel hugely responsible as yokozuna. I was the only one who could finish this matter the right way."

    He went on: "I think I was destined to end my career like this."

    Asashoryu won his 25th Emperor's Cup last month in Tokyo, despite his involvement in the incident, and is third on the all-time list of tournament winners behind Taiho with 32 and Chiyonofuji with 31. He holds the record of seven consecutive tournament wins starting with the 2004 Kyushu Grand Tournament.

    © JapanVisitor.com