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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Green Tea Kit-Kat at Narita Airport

宇治抹茶キットキャット

Narita Airport is not the most modern of airports anymore, but it lacks little in the way of conveniences for the international traveler.

Seen at a Narita Airport drug store-cum-souvenir shop was this stand of Uji Maccha Kit-Kats. Maccha is a rich, thick form of green tea with the strongest flavor of any variety. And Uji is Japan's green tea capital: a town near Kyoto that has been supplying the old capital with tea for hundreds of years.

Green Tea Kit-Kat Narita Airport


This "Japan Exclusive," as it was labeled, is aimed at those who want something quintessentially Japanese as a twist on top of that familiar chocolatey sweetness.

They were giving out samples, and, sure enough, a vague hint of traditional Japan somehow made it through the sugary, biscuity crunch.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roof Demon Kyoto

Good luck charm on Kyoto roof京都の鬼瓦

In Kyoto, if you look up, you can occasionally see protective demons affixed to a house's roof.

They are known as "oni kawara" ("devil roof tile"), and come in varying degrees of scariness.

Their job, so to speak, is to protect the home from evil - usually fires or break-ins.

However, until recently, we had never seen one made out of gold.

Just south of Oike near Teramachi on a brand new home was this little guy.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Sumida River Fireworks Festival 2011

隅田川花火大会



The Sumida River runs through the east part of Tokyo, past one of the city's bulwarks of tradition, Asakusa, and the sumo center of Ryogoku. A little south of Asakusa, in Kuramaebashi, right next to Ryogoku, an annual summer fireworks festival is held, the Sumida-gawa (Sumida River) Fireworks Festival. The roots of the festival go back to 1733, when the Shogun of the day, Yoshimune (read more about Tokyo history), allowed fireworks to be let off in a festival commemorating the deadand celebrating being alivefollowing a year of disasters in 1732.

Because of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, all the usual summer fireworks festivals in Tokyo were cancelled this year, except for this, the biggest of them, the Sumida River Fireworks Festival, held on the evening of Saturday, August 27, 2011. The festival thus retains its role as a commemorative and celebratory response to disaster.

Preparations for the festival began a week beforehand, with the banks of the river being fenced off, and barriers placed along Kuramaebashi Bridge to keep spectators well clear of the road.

On the day itself, police boats partitioned off one side of the river just south of Kuramaebashi to keep the spectator bank clear of sightseeing vessels, and, in the evening, just before the fireworks began, the section of overhead Metropolitan Highway 6 that runs alongside the Sumida River was closed to traffic, to prevent any accidents from motorists begin distracted by the fireworks. Edo-dori Street, running through nearby Asakusabashi was also closed to traffic, giving it a very festive atmosphere.

Thousands, probably tens of thousands, gathered alongside the river and on the bridge to watch the approximately two-hour display. Many were wearing traditional Japanese festival garb: yukata robe, geta clogs, and a folding fan for the summer heat and mugginess. There were scores of pleasure boats lined up on the river since mid-afternoon, also jammed with spectators.

 The fireworks display started quite demurely and gradually grew in force, color, elaborateness (and loudness!) up to a mind-bending finale over the 90 minutes. Get the full grandeur of the spectacle on the YouTube video above.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Japan News This Week 28 August 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.Prime Minister’s Departure Underscores Japan’s Search for Leadership

New York Times

In pictures: Japan's past leaders

BBC

Japanese TV host Shinsuke Shimada resigns over yakuza links

Guardian

1953 records on handling U.S. forces released

Japan Times

El primer ministro japonés presenta su dimisión

El Pais

Ce qui se passe vraiment à la centrale nucléaire de Fukushima

Rue89

日本首相菅直人宣布辞职 继任者最快30日产生

Caijing

The Great Hiroshima Cover-Up—And the Greatest Movie Never Made

Japan Focus

Japan at full strength for World Cup qualifiers

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

Number of days served in office of Japan's recent Prime Ministers:

Junichiro Koizumi - 1980
Ryutaro Hashimoto - 932
Keizo Obuchi - 616
Tomiichi Murayama - 561
Naoto Kan - 447 (as of August 28)
Yoshiro Mori - 387
Shinzo Abe - 366
Yasuo Fukuda - 365
Taro Aso - 358
Yukio Hatoyama - 266
Morihiro Hosokawa - 263

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ninnaji Temple Kyoto

Nio-san Ninnaji Temple Kyoto仁和寺の門

In front of the large and impressive gate of Ninnaji Temple are two Nio-san demons.

They are large wooden guardian statues on both the right and left of the temple entrance.

Their "job" is to protect the temple from evil.

Ninnaji is a temple in western Kyoto with expansive grounds that was founded in the 9th century.

Prior to that, the grounds and its buildings served as a summer retreat for the emperor and his large entourage.

Information

Two-minute walk from Omuro Station on the Kitano line of the Keifuku Railway.

Buses #10, #26, and #59 all stop at Ninnaji-mae.

33 Ouchi Omuro
Ukyo-ku
Kyoto
075-461-1155

There is a 400 yen entrance fee to the sub-temple on your left as you enter. The rest of the complex is free.


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Sri Lanka Festival Yoyogi Park 2011

The 2011 Sri Lanka Festival will take place at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park in Shibuya on 10th and 11th September 2011 from 10am-7.00. Entrance to the Festival is free.


For further information

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo
Tel: 03-3440-6911, 03-3440-6916
Fax: 03-3440-6914

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shinsuke Shimada Retires over Yakuza Connection

shinsuke shimada島田紳助芸能界引退

One of Japan's leading "talents," Shinsuke Shimada, suddenly resigned last night.

The fifty-five year-old MC and comedian was found to have been associating with known mobsters for several years.

The Kyoto native has been a fixture on the small screen for decades. His sharp tongue, bespoke suits, and abrasive wit have made him rich and hugely popular.

In a live interview, which was broadcast on national tv on Tuesday night in Japan, Shimada was contrite and even shed a few tears as he explained that for several years he exchanged mails with and met on occasion a made gangster.

His sentence for this infraction is "retirement" - which if upheld by Yoshimoto Kogyo, the production company at which he is registered - a fate worse than death for the diminuitive and hyper-verbal Shimada.

This is not his first brush with trouble.

In October 2004, Shimada assaulted a Yoshimoto female employee at a television studio. Apparently, the woman did not in both speech and conduct show proper deference.

As a result, he dragged her into a dressing room and beat and spat on her. An Osaka judge fined him 300,000 yen ($3900).

The woman appealed and the Tokyo District Court ordered Shimada and his agency to pay approximately 10 million yen ($130,000) in damages to the woman.

Cynical Prediction: Japan has not seen the last of Shimada.

Short of a drug or murder conviction, Japanese stars invariably come back after they cross the line. It has happened with two of the five members of SMAP and countless others.

After a year or so of sufficient self-reflection and good behavior, he will make a triumphant and tearful return to the "geinokai" (entertainment industry).

He will be warmly embraced and welcomed back, and all will be forgotten. He is a cash cow, an obnoxious one, but Yoshimoto will eventually smell the money and bring back the bad boy of Japanese tv.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kamo and Takano Rivers Kyoto

Kamo and Takano Rivers Kyoto鴨川と高野川京都

In the Demachiyangai area of Kyoto, north of downtown and just east of the Imperial Palace, two rivers join to create the Kamo River.

This is Kyoto's main river, and it flows through the central part of the city.

On the left is the Kamo River - same name but different river and different Chinese characters as the river it flows into - and on the right is the Takano River.

This part of town is very popular with college students, lovers, and walkers. It is close to Doshisha and Kyoto Universities, and is a magnet for young people.

In good weather, people gather along the banks of the two rivers, or in the land that ends in the middle. There college students often gather at night or, during the day, play instruments. The rivers are so shallow that children can walk across; for those who don't want to get their feet wet, there are small stepping stones placed in the river.

The Kamo River - north of the fork - has a wonderful path for walking, jogging, and cycling.

Going the opposite direction, Kyoto's downtown is about a mile or so south of here.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Climbing Mount Atago Kyoto

Mount Atago Kyoto愛宕山千日参り

Every July 31, Kyoto's Mount Atago witnesses a surge in the number of hikers. And nearly all of them do so at night.

Mount Atago is the second highest mountain in the city, following Mt. Hiei.

On the 31st, Mount Atago plays host to "Sennichi Tsuyasai," a festival that focuses on fire, both positively and negatively.

The genesis of the festival is the hope for a thousand days of flame (cooking, heating) and also for a thousand days without home-wrecking fire.

From top to bottom, the hike is roughly 4 kilometers.

Hikers gather in the village of Kiyotaki at the base of the mountain around dusk. To guide them, the city strings up lights from Kiyotaki to the very top at Atago Shrine.

Families, couples, older folks, groups make the hike a mass of humanity.

Once at the top, pilgrims can purchase good luck charms that are said to ward off fire and bad luck.

Climbing Mount Atago Kyoto.


What to Bring

Wear light clothes and bring something heavier (the temperature can be quite chilly)
Water
Snacks
Small towel
Some cash
Sneakers or light hiking boots
Flashlight

Hiking Mount Atago Kyoto at night.


Getting There

Kyoto Bus:

From JR Kyoto Station: Bus stop No. C6 Bus No. 72
From Hankyu Arashiyama station: Bus No. 62 or 72
From Keihan Sanjo station: Bus stop No. 14 Bus No. 62

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Lanterns on Mt. Atago.


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Sangenjaya: a Tokyo Attic to Revisit

三軒茶屋

Sangenjaya


It had been a long time since I'd gone out eating and drinking in Tokyo a la japonaise. Having married and settled down with my partner a couple of years ago, eating out has become a luxury that we forego in favor of home cooking and saving for our next overseas trip, and drinking has become a luxury that I have virtually sacrificed to my partner's near teetotal status.

So it was with a hint of excitement - even a hint of which doesn't come so often in middle age, that I responded eagerly to my longest Japanese friend's invitation to go out for dinner, our first time since spring. There was an added element that added a touch of alacrity to my hint of excitement: would it be OK if my friend's recently acquired partner came along? Of course!

We arranged to meet at the unheard of hour of 6pm at Sangenjaya station. Sangenjaya, especially in the somewhat darkened Tokyo of post-Fukushima, is like an old attic of Tokyo: in other words something of a ramshackle remnant of what much of Tokyo must have looked like up until about 30 or 40 years ago. The name itself is charming: "Three Teahouses." The facades along the streets undulate more, are a bit grimier, the pavements aren't as smooth and uniform, and, all in all, walking around it seems to involve more meandering than is typical of Tokyo.

Sangenjaya is more than old quaintness, though. It is animus and life. The crowd is a mix of regular local and trendy alternative, and the shops and restaurants reflect that in a mix of homeliness and adventurousness.

We headed first for a small, Japanese-style restaurant with rather taciturn staff that specializes in lightly cooked, often raw, vegetables. We had been there before, and the owner probably doesn't like me, because the very first time, last year, when I rang up to reserve a seat for two, he could tell I was a foreigner by my accent and, of course, my name, and, once I'd finished making the reservation, asked me if the other person was a foreigner, because, he said "We're a small establishment." I hate that kind of thing. I refuse to get used to it. So I replied kankei nai ("That's irrelevant.") in a way that could have been a little politer if I'd tried, and hung up. I didn't even look at him when I turned up with my Japanese friend, because I was a little ashamed of the tone of voice I'd used, and anyway the last thing I wanted to be seen as was "triumphant."

Anyway, the food there is great - especially the beer: partly because it's roasting hot in Tokyo right now, and partly because it's served in chilled glasses with loads of head - the latter being somewhat uncommon in Japan. The most memorable thing both last time and this time was the sweet corn, completely raw, and super sweet.

Having my friend's young partner there added something special to the old routine. My friend had a sharp haircut and a new shine in his eye to match. The young partner was very adult for his age (mid-20s), had done a lot and seemed to know what he wanted in general.

When you're a long-time foreigner in Japan who "did the Japan thing" in his younger days and has become jaded with it, it is very good for you to dive back into Japan now and then. Japan looks very samey on the surface, and the Japanese ideology is to assert the uniformity and shared characteristics of what it means to be Japanese.

It is therefore good for you as a foreigner when the conversation gets around to talk about roots. Regional differences in the Japanese language are a favorite topic in Japan, and things got animated talking about the peculiarities of Japanese in Kyushu, western Honshu, and Kansai. Without have time, space or, most importantly, the memory capacity, to relate the full scope of the conversation, the result was to shake up, again, my image of Japan and reintroduce to me its variety, disparities, disjunctions, and the prejudices and fixed ideas Japanese have about each other - not just foreigners. It brings you back to the fold when you are reminded that the fold is not the monolith it appears to be.

Because we'd begun so early we went to a pub later to bring things up to the next level. Akaoni ("Red Devil") is an occasional haunt, that we were back at that evening. It was time to leave the beer behind and get into the sake. Having spent my first three years in Niigata prefecture: Sado Island to be precise, I habitually have at least something of a tipple on sake from that region.

The woman who served us was a very intense person who gave the impression of trying to deliver the encyclopedia article she has memorized as quickly as possible to get onto the next thing on her agenda. However, you quickly realize after a couple of her visits to the table that that is uncharitable. She truly does have an encyclopedic knowledge of not only every sake on the menu, but of the whole universe of alcoholic beverages. Humming and hahing over the menu, I was abruptly asked by her what wine I liked. I said Chablis, and she expertly pointed out a few sakes for me that had Chablis-like qualities and rattled off the slight differences between them. She was actually unstinting of her time and knowledge, and out the info would come, like a volley of champagne corks.

The woman's eloquence soon caught on after a few of those expertly commentated drafts. Things don't usually get animated with my friend, but things were different that evening with the new young acquaintance there, and the conversation got imbued with unusual passion. Just one extra presence and our old binary grunts in black, white and gray had changed and gone a touch rhythmic, kaleidoscopic.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Japan News This Week 21 August 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.Strong Yen Is a Two-Edged Sword for Japan

New York Times

Children of the Japanese Tsunami - Schools World Service - Primary video

BBC

Japan warned it must decide on future of Okinawa US marine base

Guardian

Nuclear policy scaled back

Japan Times

Japón remodela su seguridad nuclear, que pasa a Medio Ambiente

El Pais

Vivant à Tokyo, je dénonce ce gouvernement irresponsable

Rue89

日本外务省解除禁止下属搭乘韩国航空班机禁令

Caijing

Food Safety: Addressing Radiation in Japan’s Northeast after 3.11

Japan Focus

Japan’s Ryo Miyaichi set for Arsenal debut

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

According to a Softfield Brain survey that took place in May, Japanese men and women are worried about skin care.

Married women and men from, aged 20 - 69, were polled.

Women by a large margin were most concerned about the smell of their armpits. Men, in contrast, were worried about their scalps. 55% of men replied they were doing some form of skin care.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

More than 7,000 Japanese went to hospital with heat stroke symptoms last week. The exact figure came to 7,071.

That was the highest one-week total this summer.

Source: Kyodo News

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Babasaki Moat Marunouchi

丸の内

The Babasaki Moat (Bakasaki-bori) is an outer moat of the Imperial Palace in the Marunouchi business district near Tokyo Station and Naka-dori Street.

Babasaki Moat Marunouchi Tokyo


Babasaki Moat is home to some inner city Tokyo wildlife including carp, egrets, turtles and white swans. The inner bank of the moat is backed with an impressive stone wall topped now with trees.

Babasaki Moat Marunouchi


Nearby attractions to Bakasaki-bori are the Shin-Marunouchi Building, the Marunouchi Building, Brick Square, Tokyo International Forum and the Idemitsu Museum of Arts.

Babasaki Moat Marunouchi Tokyo


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Friday, August 19, 2011

Guanghualiao Dormitory Kokaryo

光華寮

This dilapidated Kyoto University dormitory, off Imadegawa Dori near Ginkakuji and Kyoto University's Center for Informatics in East Asian Studies, has been the center of a row between Japan, Taiwan and mainland China over ownership of the building. Japan's changing post-war diplomatic relations with both Taiwan and the PRC are at the heart of the issue.

Guanghualiao Dormitory Kokaryo, Kyoto

The facility is known as the Guanghualiao dormitory (Kokaryo) and the argument over its ownership is the longest-running civil case before the Japanese courts. The building was rented in the pre-war period by Kyoto Imperial University for use by Chinese students and purchased in 1945 by the Republic of Taiwan, but problems over ownership began in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution in China.

Kyoto Guanghualiao Dormitory Kokaryo

Now the Guanghualiao Dormitory looks deserted as the case drags out before the judges.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Imadegawa Dori Kyoto

今川通

Imadegawa Dori runs east-west parallel to the Imperial Palace (Gosho) and Doshisha University in Kyoto. Imadegawa Dori begins at Kitano-hakubaicho in the west and continues to Ginkakuji In the east.

Imadegawa Dori, Kyoto


Kyoto attractions on or near Imadegawa Street include Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, the Nishijin Textile Center, Kyoto University and Chionji Temple with its flea market on the 15th of the month.

Bridge at Demachiyanagi, Kyoto


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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gay Rainbow Matsuri Festival in Shinjuku Ni-Chome 2011

レインボー祭り 新宿二丁目 2011年



On Saturday, gay Shinjuku 2-chome, the main gay entertainment area of Tokyo, saw the advent of another very successful festival, the Rainbow Matsuri 2011.

Thousands gathered from 3pm on August 14 for the community spectacle, which was focused on traditional drumming and dancing troupes that entertained the huge crowd that lined the streets both to watch it and participate in it.

Traditional dress in the form of yukata summer robes, kimono, geta clogs, and, for the performers, festive happi coats were very much in evidence, as well as the less traditionally Japanese drag queens spotted here and there.

The weather favored the parade with an afternoon that was hot but not overly so, and close to blue sky.

See the YouTube video above for a glimpse of just how very gay an afternoon it was (and please excuse some iffy patches of sound).

Read more about the history of the Tokyo Gay Lesbian Pride Parade

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mount Tsukuba

筑波山

Mount Tsukuba or Tsukuba-san in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture rises to 877m and is clearly visible from the city.

Mount Tsukuba, Ibaraki

The twin peaks of the mountain are Nyotai-san at 877m and Nantai-san at 871m - "Male Mountain" and "Female Mountain" respectively.

Visitors can reach the peaks by either cable car or ropeway and there are tremendous views over the Kanto Plain below as far as Tokyo and the Sky Tree.

Mount Tsukuba cable car

Buses run from Tsukuba Station to both the cable car and ropeway stations at the foot of the mountain and various hiking trails criss-cross the slopes.

Tsukubasan Shrine at the foot of Nyotai-san has festivals on the first day of April and November and there are small shrines on the summits of both peaks.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Brick Square Marunouchi

ブリックスクエア

Brick Square in the Marunouchi business district is part of the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum - a recreation of the original brick Mitsubishi Ichigokan building, designed by British architect Josiah Conder in 1894, that once stood on this site near Tokyo Station.

Brick Square Marunouchi Tokyo

Brick Square has quickly become a favorite with Toyoites working in Marunouchi with its upmarket alfresco restaurants and cafes, pleasant water features (including cooling water sprays in summer), outdoor benches and statues including the one pictured by Henry Moore (above).

Restaurants and cafes include the Chinese eatery Qing Cai, the Kyoto vegetable restaurant Mame Maru and the popular San Francisco Italian A16.

Marunouchi Brick Square can also be accessed from the swish Naka-dori shopping street that runs behind it.

Brick Square Marunouchi near Tokyo Station

Marunouchi Brick Square
2-6-1 Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo

Walking distance from Tokyo Station.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Japan News This Week August 14 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.

After Fukushima, Japan's 'authority myth' is crumbling

Guardian



Japan renews intervention warning against strong yen

The Economic Times



Children of the Japanese Tsunami - Schools World Service - Primary video

BBC



Japan nuclear crisis: Fukushima alert eased

BBC



Citizen group tracks down Japan's radiation


Aljazeera



Giant tent being built over Japan nuclear reactor

MSNBC




核电规划微妙变局

Caijing



Last Week's News



Japan Statistics for Households in the second quarter of 2011

Num. of persons per household (persons): 2.17
Num. of earners per household (persons): 0.70
Age of household heads (years old): 68.1
Rate of owned dwellings (%): 82.7
Rate of rented dwellings & land (%): 15.5
Average monthly earnings per household: 440,675 yen

Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tiger Jeet Singh Curry House

タイガー・ジェット・シン

Indian restaurants called "Star of India" or "Taj Mahal" can be found all over the world so it was a bit of a surprise to find an Indian restaurant called "Guns" in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, to the north of Tokyo.

"Guns" is owned by Tiger Jeet Singh, a former pro-wrestler in Japan, known for entering the ring in a turban and carrying a sword. Now a Canadian citizen, the Punjab-born Singh is famous for his philanthropy and his business acumen.

Tiger Jeet Singh Curry House

Enjoy an excellent Indian buffet lunch surrounded by some memorabilia from Tiger Jeet Singh's eventful career in the ring.

茨城県つくば市天久保1-8-9 第2松見ビル1F
Tel: 029 859 6677

Tiger Jeet Singh Curry House Tsukuba


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Sonic 2011

This year's Summer Sonic Rock Festival begins tomorrow.

Summer Sonic


Summer Sonic takes place from August 13-14 Saturday and Sunday in Tokyo and Osaka and will feature such acts as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne, James Blunt, Suede, PiL, Zebrahead and Panic at the Disco.

The Tokyo venue is Makuhari Messe and QVC Marine Field, while the Osaka leg of the festival is held at Maishima Summer Sonic.

Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Summer Sonic website.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Umeda Sky Building

梅田スカイビル

Umeda Sky Building is a very recognizable landmark in the Umeda district of Osaka. Consisting of two 40 storey towers connected at the very top, Umeda Sky Building was designed by Hiroshi Hara and completed in 1993.

Umeda Sky Building Osaka

Hiroshi Hara's other famous designs include Kyoto Station, which in some ways resembles the Umeda Sky Building and Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido.

Umeda Sky Building includes office and event space and also is home to the Consulate-General of Germany and the Westin Hotel.

The square at the foot of the two towers also plays host to a number of annual events including the Osaka Beer Festival.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marunouchi Naka Dori

丸の内仲通り

Marunouchi Naka-dori in the Marunouchi district near Tokyo Station is one of the capital's premier shopping streets.


Running roughly north-south from Otemachi Subway Station to Yurakucho Station, Marunouchi Naka Dori is located between the outer Babasaki Moat of the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station. Marunouchi Naka Dori allows access to the Shin-Marunouchi Building, the Marunouchi Building, and the Idemitsu Museum of Arts.



Marunouchi Naka Dori is lined with beautiful trees, benches and some notable art pieces including Der Trommler by British artist Michael Sandle and other works on loan from the Hakone Open Air Museum.



Flagship stores on Marunouchi Naka Dori include Emporio Armani, Burberry, Brook Brothers, Commes des Garcons, Diesel, Kate Spade, Tiffany & Co, Royal Copenhagen, Paul Smith and Hermes.

Among the many restaurants, bars and cafes on Naka Dori are Aux Amis, La Bodega, Cova Tokyo, Doutor, Kaiserhof, Maison Barzac and Starbucks. Visitors can sample of Tokyo's best international and Japanese cuisine right here.


A good time to visit Naka Dori is in the evening between mid-November and mid-February when the whole street is illuminated with over 800,000 lights. Various other events are also staged on Naka Dori throughout the year including an annual gardening show, art events and a vegetable market.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Huge Ema

護王神社

This huge ema at Go'o Shrine in Kyoto celebrates the Year of the Rabbit and is the largest ema I have seen.




Most Japanese shrines produce their own ema or votive plaques, which cost around 500 yen. Supplicants write their wish on the ema and place it on a special frame.

Access

Five minutes north from Marutamachi Subway Station
Tel: 075 441 5458


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Monday, August 08, 2011

Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office

Holders of the Japan Rail Pass need to exchange their Exchange Order at a Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office to receive their Japan Rail Pass for travel around Japan.

You will have to fill in an application form when you exchange your Exchange Order and show your temporary visitor visa in your passport.

Japan Rail Pass Exchange Office


Japan Rail Exchange Orders must be purchased overseas from a JR authorized sales office or agent.

The Japan Rail is not valid on Nozomi and Mizuho trains on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines.


List of Japan Rail Pass Exchange Offices


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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Japan News This Week August 7 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.



Hitachi, Mitsubishi likely to call off merger talks

The Economic Times



The day Hiroshima turned into hell

Al Jazeera



UN chief in Japan as nuclear crisis simmers

Yahoo News



Disneyland operator remains in red


Japan Times



Japan to fire top nuclear officials over Fukushima crisis

The Guardian




日本政府确定福岛核事故赔偿方针

Caijing



Japan arrests Chinese fishing boat captains

Reuters



Japan PM regrets nuclear 'myth' at Hiroshima


MSNBC



Last Week's News



Japan Jokes
ahajokes.com



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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Anniversary of Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima

広島

The anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on the 6th August 1945 and Nagasaki, three days later, on 9th August, will have special resonance this year following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The days and months that have followed the mega-earthquake and tsunami of March 11 and the subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima reactor have brought stories of increased radiation in the affected area, radioactive cesium being found in local cows and school yards suffering from dangerous levels of radiation.

The atomic dome in HiroshimaJapan's first nuclear disaster occurred on this day 66 years ago and ceremonies take place in Hiroshima Peace Park and throughout Japan to remember the approximately 140,000 recorded victims.

At 8.15am on August 6 1945 the US B-29 bomber "Enola Gay" dropped the world's first atomic attack on a populated area.
The 3m long, 4 ton "Little Boy" bomb unleashed on Hiroshima carried 50kg of uranium 235 and the fission of 1kg of uranium released the equivalent of 16,000 tons of high explosive, well-nigh flattening the southern port city.

An interesting side story to the end of the war is this account of downed American airmen being saved from execution, just after the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.



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Friday, August 05, 2011

Mt Fuji Sunrise

富士山

Climbing Mt Fuji and seeing the sunrise is a rite of passage for many people in Japan and an increasing number of tourists, especially recent Chinese visitors.

Mt Fuji Sign


A popular route to the summit of Japan's tallest mountain is the Subashiri course starting from the 5th station, which is accessible by bus and car.

Mt Fuji Sunrise Japan

The ascent of Fuji-san from the 5th station to the 8th station takes about 5 and a half hours. Here visitors rest in one of the manned, dormitory huts overnight before making the 90 minute climb to the top to see the sunrise.

Mt Fuji Sunrise

The climbing routes from the fifth station include Subashiri, Lake Kawaguchi, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya, with the Lake Kawaguchi route the most popular.

Mt Fuji

The climbing season at Fuji is from July 1 to August 31. The old adage "Everyone should climb Mount Fuji once; only a fool would climb it twice" holds true.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tokyo International Forum

東京国際フォーラム

Tokyo International Forum in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo near Tokyo Station is a convention center, concert venue and exhibition space.

Tokyo International Forum consists of seven halls, the main Exhibition Hall and 34 conference rooms surrounding a cool, tree-lined central plaza along with cafes, restaurants and shops.

Tokyo International Forum, Marunouchi


Designed by US-based, Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly, Tokyo International Forum opened in 1996. The site was the former Tokyo metropolitan government building before it relocated to Shinjuku in western Tokyo.

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo Station area


The glass and steel structure is in the shape of a ship. Nearby attractions include the Tokia Building and Brick Square, while Naka-dori and the Imperial Palace are both close.

Tokyo International Forum
5-1 Marunouchi 3-chome
Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo 100-0005

The nearest stations to Tokyo International Forum are Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

AIST

つくば市

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, is a leading Japanese research institute with strong international credentials.

Founded in 2001 in an amalgamation of other research institutes, AIST is Japan's largest public research organization and employs over 3,000 people. AIST is a leader in the field of green innovations, standardization, solar-power, and industrial R&D.

AIST, Tsukuba


The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) site in Tsukuba has both a Geological Museum and the interesting Science Square Tsukuba. Here visitors can see displays of the latest Japanese robots including the therapeutic seal robot, Paro, a dinosaur robot, Tyrannosaurus, the Choromet mini-humanoid robots and a number of full-size humanoid robots in the HRP series.

AIST, Tsukuba


Awarded a Michelin Green Star, the museums are free to the public and are fun for families with young children. The Tsukuba site has a noted outdoor cafe looking over a lovely pond.

AIST
1-1-1 Higashi
Tsukuba
Ibaraki
305-8561
Japan
Tel: 029 861 2130

Science Square
Open: 9:30am to 5pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Dead Crow in Japan

カラス

For fans of dead crows we came across another one to add to our collection, this time in a rural setting.

Crow Atsuta Shrine Nagoya

Hopefully, the dead bird is not a sign of West Nile Virus, which can cause encephalitis.




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Monday, August 01, 2011

Paro

パロ

Described as the world's most therapeutic robot, Paro was developed by the The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba in the early 1990s.

Paro robot


The furry, white, harp seal robot reacts to being petted and was designed as a kind of animal therapy for people in hospitals and nursing homes. Paro's tactile sensors allow it to respond to touch by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes.

Paro Homepage

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