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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taketomi Island Images

竹富島

Taketomi Island ("Prosperous Bamboo") in the Yaeyama chain of islands in Okinawa attempts to preserve Ryukyu (Okinawan) culture. The 7km long by 2km wide island with a population of 300, one third of whom is over 70, has no need for convenience stores.

Taketomi Island Okinawa

The inhabitants still sweep the streets outside their own homes keeping the beautiful island in pristine condition, despite the daily influx of hundreds of day-trippers from the mainland via nearby Ishigaki.

The main village of Taketomi has beautiful, walled bungalow-style homes with terracotta-tiled roofs, topped with the ubiquitous shisa. The rocky walls surrounding the houses are alive with colorful bougainvillea and hibiscus plants.


Taketomi Island Okinawa

Taketomi-jima is known for its beautiful beaches, hoshizuna star sand, aquamarine sea, water buffalo carts (suigyusha), butterflies and the local minsa, an indigo fabric used in kimono obi (belts).


Taketomi Island Okinawa Japan

© Johannes Schönherr & JapanVisitor.com


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Judo

柔道

Judo ("the way of gentleness") is a relatively new Japanese martial art, dating only from the Meiji Period. The sport was developed in 1882 by Dr Kano Jigoro (1860–1938), a weakling as a child who took up jujutsu training to strengthen himself during his studies at Tokyo University.



Kano developed and systemized judo as a martial art from the older jujutsu techniques, which had been formulated in a number of "schools" under various masters in the Edo Period (1603-1868) as a means of unarmed combat training for samurai warriors.

This systemization and rationalization of a previous feudal form was part of the general modernizing underway in Japanese society during the early Meiji Period, as people looked to transform samurai ethics into spiritual disciplines and practical self-help techniques more in tune with the prevailing Victorian zeitgeist of the day.


In 1882 Kano founded the Kodokan (at Eishoji, a Buddhist temple in Kamakura) to teach judo to others and as his new style increased in popularity, it evenually displaced jujutsu in Japan.

Judo is based on three major principles: throwing (nage waza), groundwork (katame waza) and striking (atemi waza).

Judo spread quickly overseas as Kano and his students actively promoted the sport in the USA and Europe. Gunji Koizumi (1885-1965) the "Father of British Judo" settled in London and founded the Budokwai. Mikonosuke Kawaishi (1899-1969) taught with Koizumi in England before moving on to Paris to set up a judo school.

In the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, judo became an Olympic sport for men and for women at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Japan This Week 27 June 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Ink Gushes in Japan’s Media Landscape

New York Times

足球人气是日本经济的兴奋剂

Caijing

Whale cull plan sunk as national delegates fail to agree

Guardian

Honda y Endo clasifican a Japón con dos golazos de falta

El Pais

Kishi 'understood' secret nuke pact, '63 letter indicates

Japan Times

Chasse à la baleine : Japon, Islande et Norvège échappent à tout contrôle

Le Monde

Japan 'regrets' lack of agreement at IWC meeting

BBC

Japanese Slot Machines: Noisy, Tacky and Coveted

New York Times

Japan reach last 16 with win over Denmark

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Top Ten Paid CEOs in Japan, 2009

1. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan: 8.9 billion yen ($9.97 million)
2. Howard Stringer, Sony: 8.1 billion yen ($9.07 million)
3. Satoshi Mizugoshi, Kobe Steel: 2.73 billion yen ($3.06 million)
4. Tadashi Saegusa, Miss Me Group: 2.63 billion yen ($2.94 million)
5. Ryoji Chubachi , Sony: 2.1 billion yen ($1.34 million)
6. Nobuo Ohashi, Mitsui Bussan: 1.9 billion yen ($1.69 million)
7. Susumu Kato, Sumitomo Shoji: 1.86 billion yen ($1.66 million)
8. Motoyuki Oka, Sumitomo Shoji: 1.83 billion yen ($1.63 million)
9. Masafumi Nogimori, Astellas Pharmaceutical: 1.8 billion ($1.6 million)
10. Eiki Kaneko, Simplex Technologies: 1.77 billion ($1.58 million)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blue Samurai

サッカー

Sales of replica shirts and scarves for the Japanese soccer team, known as the "Blue Samurai" were well down on the last World Cup in 2006 leading into the 2010 event in South Africa.

Blue Samurai goods

Japan's erratic form under eccentric coach Takeshi Okada and the economic downturn contributed to a distinct lack of interest among the Japanese public. Fewer people on organized tours have traveled to support the team in South Africa amid concerns over security and the huge distances involved.

However, as Japan advanced to the last 16 of the tournament, a feat they failed to achieve in Germany four year's ago, with a resounding thumping of Denmark, optimism and retail sales are picking up across the now slightly "soccer-mad" country.


Japan soccer goods

Fans have packed bars and the Samurai Blue fan park in Yoyogi in Tokyo to cheer on their heroes, as cash registers across the nation begin to experience a definite "feel-good" factor.



Japan progressed from a tough Group E beating Cameroon and Denmark and losing only narrowly to the Netherlands and now take on Paraguay in the Round of 16.

If you are interested in purchasing Japanese soccer goods please contact us.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gyokusenji Temple

玉泉寺

The fascinating Gyokusenji Temple in Shimoda is a must-see for visitors to this historic town situated in Tokyo Bay on the Izu Peninsula. Located a little distance from Shimoda Station, the temple was chosen as the site of the first US consulate that opened in Japan in 1856.

Gyokusenji Temple Shimoda

Originally a small Shingon sect temple dating from the 14th century, Gyokusenji Temple was enlarged after it became a Soto sect place of worship in the 1580s.

The main hall dates from 1848 and it was on the grounds of this scenic, tranquil temple that members of Commodore Perry's delegation to Japan in 1854 were allowed to stay during the negotiations to sign the Shimoda Treaty. Bodies of dead American sailors from Perry's squadron were buried here, along with Russian sailors who were killed in a tsunami off the coast in 1854.

Gyokusenji Temple Shimoda Japan

In 1856, the first American consul general Townsend Harris and his secretary-interpreter Henry Heusken took up residence as the Stars & Stripes were raised and the temple became the first ever foreign consulate established in Japan.

A plaque commemorating this historic event displays these prescient words from Harris: "At last get a reinforcement from the ship, flag staff erected. Men form a ring round it, and half past two pm of this day I hoist the first Consular flag ever seen in this empire. Grave reflections, ominous of change, undoubted beginning of the end. Query - if for real good of Japan."

Harris and Heusken stayed for just under three years before the consulate moved to Edo (Tokyo), where Heusken was later assassinated by swordsmen opposed to the country's opening to the West.

Gyokusenji Temple

The Townsend Harris Museum (400 yen for entrance) preserves everyday articles from Harris and Heusken's stay at the temple, including a pipe, a broken wine glass and numerous pieces of furniture, wax models of Harris and his maid Okichi, plus daguerreotypes and documents from the period.

The grounds of Gyokusenji Temple contain the gravestones of the Russian sailors drowned in 1854, a monument to the visit of US President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and a sign detailing the milking and later slaughter of the first cow in Japan for human consumption.

Gyokusenji Temple Shimoda

Gyokusenji Temple
31-6 Kakizaki, Shimoda, Shizuoka
Tel: 0558 22 1287

Walk approx 25 minutes east from the station along Route 136 or take a Suzaki/Tsumekizaki bound bus and get off at Kakizaki-jinja-mae.

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nike parody sticker in gay Tokyo

ゼネラルステッカー

Nike parody sticker in gay Tokyo

I was wandering through Shinjuku 2-chome tonight, Tokyo's main gay area, and happened in on a shop there.

Just inside the doorway there was a board covered with mostly irreverent little stickers, only about an inch wide by 2 inches high, and this one in particular caught my eye.

Clearly it is a parody of the Nike logo, but replacing the last "e" with a "u" turns it into the Japanese word niku (肉)or "meat," which, in Japanese gay parlance - just as in English-speaking gay parlance - refers to the cock.

Turning Nike's "Just do it" into "Just nine inch" isn't terrible witty, but elaborates on the theme, I guess. The most subtle element, no doubt, is the little nick out of the tip of the line that sweeps up under the "Niku," helping the imagination out that little bit extra!

This sticker, and the many others there, is produced by a specialist sticker company in Tokyo's Ota ward called General Sticker. You can see the General Sticker website here - and, from there, their online shop.

Remember that anything you might want from Japan but can't order directly from overseas can be ordered via GoodsFromJapan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Japanese Prisons

刑務所

Japan locks up about 63 people per 100,000 inhabitants (2008 figures) up from 36 people per 100,000 inhabitants in 1992. In 2010 63,845 people were doing time in Japan.

Japanese prison

This is a low number compared with the USA and the UK, where 760 people per 100,000 inhabitants (2008) and 153 per 100,000 inhabitants (2009) respectively are in jail.

Japan's prisons are strictly regimented with military-style discipline and aim to reform and rehabilitate offenders. Prisoners in Japan wear prison-issue uniforms. There are rules on the correct way to walk, talk, eat, sit and sleep. Punishments are handed out to prisoners who do not follow the rules.

Japanese prison cell door

The number of foreigners in the Japanese penal system is on the rise, with Fuchu Prison near Tokyo, the largest prison in Japan, holding around 500 foreigners from over 40 countries, according to the US Embassy in Tokyo. Tochigi Prison is the main prison in Japan holding foreign inmates.

Visitors can get an idea of Japanese prison life at the Abashiri Prison Museum in northern Hokkaido. At Meiji Mura, just outside Inuyama, there is part of the preserved Meiji-era Maebashi Prison, made completely of wood and resembling a bird cage. The main gate of Kanazawa Prison, dating from 1907 is also here.

Japanese prisoners spend part of their time working producing goods which are then sold, the prisoners themselves receiving a small sum in return.

Prisons mainly specialized in heavy wooden furniture but are now producing other items even cute Hello Kitty toys. The goods produced in Japanese prisons can be seen here and if you are interested in purchasing an item please let us know.

There were also reports of prisoners being forced to make goods for commercial producers - such as automobile and cell phone parts. Stars & Stripes carried an article in 2004 on what could have amounted to forced labor.

Prison words

刑務所 (keimusho), prison.

留置場 (ryuchijyo), a prison for holding people for as long as 23 days until they are charged with, or cleared of a offence.

US Embassy Information on Fuchu & Tochigi Prisons

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nagoya Friends - THIS SATURDAY at Red Rock 6/26

Nagoya Friends 90th party in Nagoya!
at


  • Date: Saturday June 26th, 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

Vending machine deflation

自動販売機 デフレ

Vending machine

When I first came to Japan, in 1988, a can of soft drink from a vending machine cost 80 yen. Since then, inflation has pushed the price up 50% to 120 yen.

Japanese Vending Machine

However, over the past couple of years, prices at some machines have been dropping. Here are some concrete examples of deflation in Japan: drink machines in Tokyo’s Kojimachi district where the price has dropped to 100 yen for cans, and 130 yen (instead of the usual 150 yen) for PET bottles.

Read more about the causes of the Japanese recession.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, June 21, 2010

Newly planted rice field Kita-Kamakura

田植え

Rice field Kita-Kamakura

I went to a friend’s birthday party yesterday in Kita-Kamakura on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line. It takes 57 minutes from Shinjuku Station.

Thankfully, the weather had cooled considerably by dusk, as the friend’s house is a very stiff 15-minute climb up the side of the valley that encloses the settlement there.

On the way up I noticed that truest of all harbingers of the Japanese summer: a freshly planted rice field. Once I got to the party, another guest told me that he had actually seen it being planted when he had passed by a few hours before.

The Japanese language is rich in terms regarding rice.

Also, you can read about the history of rice in Japan.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Japan This Week 20 June 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan’s Far Right Blocks Screenings of ‘The Cove’

New York Times

日本新政府确定经济增长战略

Caijing

The heart-wrenching performance of Setsuko Hara, Ozu's quiet muse

Guardian

Tempura y vino blanco japonés

El Pais

More in sumo admit betting on baseball

Japan Times

Le Japon accusé de corrompre des Etats pour leur soutien à la chasse à la baleine

Liberation

Toyota plant hit by strike at supplier

BBC

Defying the Traditions for a Japanese Home

New York Times

Japan Coach Takeshi Okada Has Strategy To Beat The Netherlands

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

The average Chinese tourist in Japan spends 116,000 yen. That compares with 70,000 by Taiwanese and 30,000 by South Koreans

Source: Japan Tourism Agency

Average executive compensation at companies with yearly sales of one trillion yen (one billion USD) or more:

USA: 1.2 billion yen ($1.3 million)
Europe: 600 million yen ($657,000)
Japan: 149 million yen ($163,000)

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship

GraduateinJapan.com offers a handy Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship Preparation Guide eBook for students wishing to pursue (post)graduate studies in Japan through the MEXT Scholarship program.

Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship

The informative ebook offers advice from 210 scholars/alumni from 60 different countries and regions on how to write the best research proposal, contact professors at Japanese universities and how to prepare for the interview.

The downloadable ebook presents a comprehensive step-by-step overview of the Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship application process.

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

Samurai Blue Park

Sitting in the shadow of National Stadium in Yoyogi Park is Samurai Blue Park, an area created by the Japan Football Association in support of the national team's journey to the World Cup in South Africa.

Samurai Blue Park

Serving as a gathering point for those unable to make the trek to South Africa, the park will play host to a number of events and activities.

Inside the main area, the JFA has set up small exhibits featuring memorabilia such as balls and kits, from various national team campaigns.

To the rear of the main hall is a small pitch where there will be various activities going on. Towering over the outside area is a giant statue of a samurai, draped blue garments and standing with one foot on an oversized soccer ball.

Samurai Blue Park

There are also plans to hold viewings of some of the action in South Africa.

Open from 17:00-21:00 on weekdays and 12:00-21:00 on weekends, most games are shown on replay, although Japan's match with Holland on June 19 at 20:30 will be shown live.

Japan is in the midst of its third appearance at the World Cup and has already scored a mild upset with a 1-0 victory over Cameroon in its opening game. That victory was the Blue Samurai's first World Cup win on foreign soil.

Samurai Blue Park Tokyo

Japan goes up against a favored Holland side on June 19 before moving on to face Denmark on June 24. In addition to the public viewing at Samural Blue Park for the match against Holland, tickets are also on sale at Tokyo Dome for a live viewing of the same game. The Park will be open for the duration of Japan's stay at the World Cup.

© Jason Coskrey & JapanVisitor.com


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Oddball traffic accident on Shinjuku-dori Street

変な交通事故

Traffic accident on Shinjuku-dori Street


Walking down Tokyo's Shinjuku-dori Avenue at lunchtime, just past Yotsuya Station, in front of Sophia University, I saw this odd car accident. A middle aged man had just driven his car up and halfway over the fenced, kerbed concrete median strip dividing the lanes - apparently with no other car involved.

Driving in Japan is generally a safe activity. Other drivers are usually polite. If anything, the main frustrations are to be had not from other people's aggression, but such things as slowness (for example, drivers in Japan are quite slow off the mark when the lights go green), inattentiveness (you still often see people using mobile phones in cars even though it was made illegal last year), and people suddenly stopping, even in heavy traffic, to leisurely pick people up or drop them off.

However, a look at “Traffic Safety.com” (http://www.kotsu-anzen.jp/index.html), a site (Japanese language only) run by the Police Department and the Ministry of Transport, reveals that in most wards of Tokyo at least, accidents have been steadily declining over the past five years. Although, at the same time, other statistics show that of the traffic accidents that do happen, more and more are happening to elderly drivers.

Fortunately today’s accident seemed to have hurt no one, and, conversely, provided a light hearted spectacle for the lunchtime crowds while giving three policemen something to do.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kaisho and gyosho: two calligraphy styles

楷書 行書

Kaisho and gyosho: two calligraphy stylesKaisho and gyosho: two calligraphy styles
Shodo, or shuji, is the Japanese art of calligraphy. There are several different styles of Japanese characters, corresponding to fonts in the Western alphabet.

Two of the most popular are kaisho 楷書: the regular block style that looks closest to the printed word, and gyosho 行書, a semi-cursive script slightly more fluid than kaisho, but not fluid to the point of near-illegibility - as is the case with the very free and flowing sosho 草書.

Above are two examples of the same phrase written in the two styles: kaisho on the left and gyosho on the right.

The phrase is, as most shodo phrases are, a four-character phrase (yon-moji-jukugo 四文字熟語). It is pronounced tosho hitori tanoshimu, and simply means "the solitary pleasure of reading."

Read more about Japanese calligraphy.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hydrangeas in Shimoda

紫陽花

Hydrangeas in Shimoda


The hydrangea is known in Japanese as the ajisai. Of its over 70 species, most of them are native to China, Korea, and Japan.

It is hydrangea season in Japan now. On a weekend visit to the seaside town of Shimoda, on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, there was a profusion of hydrangeas lining the town’s lanes and coloring its temple grounds, parks, and gardens.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shimoda Floating Aquarium

下田海中水族館

The Shimoda Floating Aquarium, south of Izukyu Shimoda Station, is located right on the coast in Shimoda in a dramatic setting.



The aquarium features dolphin and penguin shows as well as feeding sessions with seals.

The various tanks also hold a vast variety of aquatic life found off the Izu coast, including jelly fish, sharks and small fish that eat the dead skin from your fingers.

There is a souvenir shop and a rather over-priced restaurant at the main entrance.

The bus from bus stop 7 just outside the railway station runs to the aquarium at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour. You can get a reduction on the entrance fee by buying your ticket at the information center inside the station.

Shimoda Floating Aquarium Shizuoka

Shimoda Floating Aquarium
22-31, 3-chome, Shimoda, Shizuoka 415-0023
Tel: 0558 22 3567

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Hie Shrine Sanno Matsuri in Kojimachi Tokyo

日枝神社 山王祭り  麹町 平河町



Hie Shrine is a major Shinto shrine located in Nagata-cho, the center of Japan's political life. It belongs to the Sanno branch of Shinto, which has its origins in Mt. Hiei in Kyoto.

The exact beginnings of the shrine are lost in history, but it is believed to date back to the 15th century. Hie Shrine is most famous for its Sanno Festival (Sanno Matsuri), which in the Edo period (1603 to 1868) was one of the capital’s Big Three Festivals (together with the Kanda and Fukagawa Festivals).

I work in Kojimachi, and, being the middle of June, there are at least two neighborhood associations: the Kojimachi 4-chome association, and the Hirakawacho 1-chome association, that are celebrating the Sanno Festival in their own way.

The Kojimachi 4-chome association has a booth on busy Shinjuku-dori Avenue, right in front of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, while the Hirakawacho 1-chome association’s booth is rather less conspicuous, on a backstreet a couple of minutes’ walk from the Kojimachi 4-chome one.

Check out this YouTube video of the booths of the two neighborhood associations: both celebrating the Sanno Matsuri festival.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Japan This Week 13 June 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Disease Threatens Japan’s Trade in Prime Beef

New York Times

日本的大学生的择业观

Caijing

Japan prime minister Naoto Kan warns of Greek-style public debt problems

Guardian

El padre del 'manga' para adultos

El Pais

Discrimination felt by 70% of disabled: report

Japan Times

Au Japon, l’animation en réa

Liberation

Japan PM Naoto Kan warns of 'collapse' under debt pile

BBC

World-Japan goal drought continues with 0-0 draw

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Number of days, from development to the store shelf or doctor's office, for new drugs:

Japan: 1417 days
France: 915
Denmark: 757
UK: 512
USA: 505

Source: Asahi Shinbun

Japan's international competitiveness ranking in 1993 was #1. In 2010, it is 27th.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Iceberg Tokyo

氷山

Harajuku and Shibuya are two of the most fashionable areas of Tokyo and between them fittingly lies one of the metropolis' most fashionable buildings.


Standing seven stories above the landscape, the Iceberg is one of the more unique skyscrapers in Tokyo.

Turquoise glass and a mashup of varying angles makes the building, designed by Creative Designers International (cdi) standout against the atmosphere on the stretch of land between Harajuku and Shibuya.


There is a transparent elevator on the front of the Iceberg, planted in the middle of opposing triangulated glass panels.

The building was designed to look like a crystal or iceberg (according to its designers), and stands in sharp contrast to the nondescript structures on either side it.


The Iceberg houses the Audi Forum Tokyo, one of the 10 Audi Fourms in the world. It was listed as one of the 7 architectural wonders in the world by the Conde Nast Traveller.

Inside are showrooms and presentation areas. The Iceberg also hosts art exhibitions as well as various Audi-related presentations.

Access: Audi Forum Tokyo 6-12-18, Jingu Mae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Open from 10:00AM-8:00
A 2-minute walk from Meiji-Jingu Mae Station on the Chiyoda Line or 5 minute walk from JR Harajuku Station on the Yamanote line.

© Jason Coskrey & JapanVisitor.com

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Guerrilla Gardening In Japan ゲリラガーデニング

ゲリラガーデニング

Guerrilla gardening in Japan has a much longer history than the recently coined, hip term on the net, so beloved of London town's right on, Green activists.

Guerrilla Gardening In Japan

Since the devastation of Japan's cities at the end of the Second World War, Japanese people have been quietly cultivating any spare patch of earth to grow vegetables and more recently flowers and shrubs to beautify their cramped urban spaces.

Guerrilla Gardening

Riverbanks and sidewalks in Japan are particular favorites of guerrilla gardeners, who take any opportunity to green the few available areas of arable land in Japan's teeming towns and cities.

Most sidewalks in Japan are beautified by local residents who plant flowers and place pot plants in the space between the sidewalk kerb and the road.

Guerrilla Gardening In Japan

Riverbanks have also been turned into ad hoc allotments by the people who live in a neighborhood close to one of Japan's many rivers or streams.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Photographs of Japan

写真

This handy slideshow of images of Japan shows some back catalog posts on JapanVisitor blog. If you have a Japan-related photograph or photographs that you would like to share with our visitors, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.


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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ono Ruri-ga-hama

大野海水浴場

Ono-cho, just north of Tokoname on the Chita Peninsula, south of Nagoya, was once a thriving port during and after the Kamakura Period in the 14th century. On the route from Mikawa to Ise, the area had a castle (now Shiroyama Park), and the many wooden, latticed buildings and numerous temples bear witness to a bygone age.

Ono Ruri-ga-hama

The temples include Kaionji, Sainenji and Juodo - all set in the quite narrow lanes behind the seafront.

The local beach - Ono Ruri-ga-hama - is claimed as the world's oldest sea bathing beach, but on what evidence, I have no idea.

Ono Ruri-ga-hama

The beach is crowded with bathers in July and August, but when we visited, less than a dozen people were paddling or wind-surfing.

The nearest station is Ono-machi Station, one stop south of Shinmaiko on the Meitestu Tokoname Line. National highway 155 passes through the town.

Ono Ruri-ga-hama Aichi


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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Kyoto Public Bath Sign

Kyoto Public Bath Sign
京都銭湯看板

Along the tiny Kamiya River in western Kyoto, just off Nishi Oji Dori, is a great old sento.

It has a standard entrance, with the banto-san - the person whom you pay - seated inside on a chair that overlooks both male and female dressing rooms.

(There is nothing odd about this. The banto is usually the owner, and he or she will wander in and out of the bath while you and many others are completely nude. A wall, of course, separates the female and male dressing rooms and baths.)

The interior was fairly basic: a few baths, a high ceiling with a skylight, and a sauna.

On the outside of the sento though was a wood sign that bore the standard symbol for public bath: 湯 (yu). It had been carved and had worn well with age.

Today public baths have an electric sign in the shape of the same kanji. This sento is the only one we have ever seen with an old wood sign.

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Monday, June 07, 2010

The Cove Canceled In Tokyo

ザ・コーヴ

The Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" has been canceled at the only Tokyo movie theaters planning to show the film. The US-made movie depicts the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture and has drawn flack from Japan's well-organized right wing.

Planned screenings of "The Cove" in late June were canceled at Cinemart Roppongi and Cinemart Shinsaibashi in Osaka due to "the growing likelihood that there would be disruption" - a euphemism for the arrival of the right wing and their bellicose sound trucks.

"The Cove" is available on Amazon Jp as an import from the US. The film was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival last October - it's only public screening to date.

The movie's distributor in Japan Unplugged is determined to persevere with plans for further screenings. “We will continue to discuss the situation with exhibitors and make the greatest efforts to get the film shown,” said the company's president Takeshi Kato.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Japan This Week 6 June 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Political Survivor Inherits Japan’s List of Troubles

New York Times

菅直人当选日本新首相

Caijing

How Naoto Kan rose from humble beginnings to become Japan's PM

Guardian

Un hombre de acción para sacar a Japón de la crisis

El Pais

Economy, debt reduction trump party pledges: Kan

Japan Times

L'Australie veut faire interdire la pêche à la baleine par le Japon

Le Monde

Okinawa bases row spells end to Hatoyama era

BBC

Japan’s ‘Knuckle Princess’ Arrives in U.S.

New York Times

Didier Drogba Injured During Cote d’Ivoire’s Japan Clash

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Number of hours spent waiting on May 31 to enter the following pavilions at the Shanghai Expo.

Saudi Arabia: 5 hours
Japan: 4 hours
South Korea: 3-4 hours
Switzerland: 2.5 hours
Spain: 2.5 hours
France: 2.5 hours
Germany: 2 hours
UK: 2 hours
US: 2 hours

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Cycling In Kyoto

自転車

Cycling in Kyoto just got a whole lot easier with the launch of www.cyclekyoto.com.

Cycling Kyoto

There are articles on Areas to Avoid, Japanese Bicycle Law, Bike Lanes, Bicycle Parking, Cycling Books, Cycling Safety, Cycling Vocabulary and Kyoto Weather. Happy pedaling!

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Friday, June 04, 2010

JapanVisitor on Facebook

フェイスブック

Find JapanVisitor on Facebook and become a friend...お願い.

JapanVisitor on Facebook

If you are a Facebook aficionado catch up with the latest on Japan on JapanVisitor's Facebook page.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Kyoto Homeless Man

Kyoto Homeless Manホムレス京都

Just south of Shichijo Dori along Kyoto's Kamo River, we saw a homeless man transporting his load of crushed cans.

On recycling days in Kyoto, a small army of middle-aged homeless men on bikes rush to the collection points to take the cans before the official city trucks come for them.

The load he has, while large, would not be heavy. However, he clearly labored to keep the hundreds of crushed and packed cans balanced.

He had carefully stuffed the two blue tarps, tied them, and then with separate rubber chords fixed both to his old bike.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Japan PM Hatoyama Resigns

鳩山由紀夫

He came, he dithered, he went. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has resigned after less than eight months in office to take responsibility for breaking an election promise to remove a US military base from Okinawa.

Since the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to power in the general election last September, Hatoyama's ratings have begun to plummet and he has resigned along with kingpin Ichiro Ozawa to give the DPJ a chance in next month's Upper House elections.

Yukio Hatoyama

Besides his policy flip-flops over the marine base in Okinawa, Hatoyama has been involved in a financial scandal over donations made to him by his wealthy mother and has even been criticised for his choice of shirts.

Possible successors to Hatoyama include veteran Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Naoto Kan, lantern-jawed Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and the smooth apparatchik Seiji Maehara, who is the present Transport Minister.

Born in 1947, Hatoyama replaced Ichiro Ozawa as leader of the DPJ earlier last year, after the latter became embroiled in an on-going financing scandal involving political donations from a construction company.

Hatoyama is a rich, blue-blooded, hereditary politician and a grandson of a former conservative party prime minister, Ichiro Hatoyama (1883-1959) - one of the founders of the LDP.
Hatoyama's father Iichiro Hatoyama was Japan's foreign minister for a period in the 1970s. His brother Kunio Hatoyama is now a maverick politician and green-advocate.

Yukio Hatoyama is a graduate of Tokyo University with a PhD from Stanford University in the US.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kikugahama Beach Hagi



Kikugahama Beach in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture stretches in a gentle arc from the Shizuki promontory where Hagi Castle is located to the mouth of the Matsumoto River.

Kikugahama Beach Hagi Yamaguchi

The beautiful white, sandy beach is backed by evergreen trees and is a favorite spot for swimmers in summer and walkers at all times of the year.

Kikugahama Beach

The sunsets are spectacular behind a line of now uninhabited islands.

The beach is officially open for swimming from mid-July to mid-August, at other times beware of the jellyfish.

A boat tour of Hagi takes in the lovely shoreline from the boat.

Kikugahama Beach Hagi

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