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Friday, February 23, 2018

Getting Tired of It in Japanese


You may be familiar with the word “aki” in Japanese as meaning “fall, autumn,” but there is another “aki” 飽きthat appears often in Japanese conversation and writing that means “sick of, tired of, have enough of, lose interest in, become bored with.” The noun aki means "boredness with something, being sick of something." The verb is akiru, as in “I’m sick of it already,” Moh akita.

The kanji for aki is made up of two components, the radical, at the left, being the character for “eat” 食 and the one on the right being for “enclose, wrap” (originally a pictograph of a fetus in the womb). The idea being promoted here is of being sated, overly plied, of curling up in a ball and wanting it all to stop.

Hajimatte kara ma mo naku, eiga ni akita.
[I/he/she/they] got tired of the movie shortly after it began.

The personality trait of getting easily bored with things is referred to as akippoi.
Kare wa akippoi hito dakara tsukiainikui desu.
He gets easily bored so is difficult to maintain a relationship with.

There are several words and phrases worth knowing that include the kanji for akiru, which, by the way, is pronounced hoh

For example, hohshoku, 飽食, the kanji for akiru and “to eat,” means gluttony: feeding yourself till you are literally “fed up”.

hohman, 飽満, the kanji for akiru and for "repleteness," means satiety or surfeit. 

hohwa 飽和, the kanji for akiru and "harmony," means saturation, the idea being of things having reached the “all-is-well” point of “fed-up”ness.

Finally, there’s a yommoji-jukugo (a four-character idiom) that starts with today’s character:
包経風霜 hoh-kei-fuu-soh
which means to be an old hand toughened by life’s vicissitudes.
The second character, kei, means “to pass through,” and is the first character in the word for “experience” (経験 keiken); so, hoh-kei here means “to have really had one’s fill of experience.” And fuu-soh are the characters for “wind” and “frost” respectively, as examples of the severity of the experiences the tough old bird who has seen life and survived it has been through.

Kono posuto ni moh akinakattara ii ne! 

("I hope you haven’t gotten bored with this post already!")

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Old Kyoto Tales A Fox's Gratitude


Once upon a time, there was an old couple who lived at the foot of a mountain on the Shirakawa River. One day, when they were at home, a white fox suddenly appeared in their house and said, "Please hide me from the hunter."

Old Kyoto Tales A Fox's Gratitude.

This couple was kind, and so they hid the fox in the closet. Soon after, the hunter appeared and asked about the white fox, but the couple told them that they knew nothing.

Finally, the hunter gave up and left. Emerging from the closet, the white fox told the old couple, "I will revive the well in your backyard on the next full moon night. Please drink the water from the well that night."

The old couple waited till the full moon came and went to the well. As the fox said, the well had come back to life. As soon as the old man drank the water his stomach illness completely disappeared. The news of the well's special powers quickly spread through the surrounding area, and people lined up in long queues to get the magic water.

However, one greedy man became rich by selling the water. But as he wanted to be richer still, he mixed the magic water with normal water from his own well to increase his profits. But of course this water didn't work. In fact, it created stomach problems and caused his ruin.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Japan News This Week 18 February 2018


Japan News This Week.

At Site of Japanese Volcano’s Supereruption, an Immense Lava Dome Lurks
New York Times

Japan's worries about North Korea's 'charm offensive'

Figure skating: Hanyu wins men's title for Japan's 1st gold
The Mainichi

Mysterious snow scenes in Japan – in pictures

Why Japan and Russia never signed a WWII peace treaty
Asia Times

“The Comfort Women were Prostitutes”: Repercussions of remarks by the Japanese Consul General in Atlanta
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


According to news reports in Japan this week, application for refugee status "soared" in 2017.

The number of foreigners who replied for asylum in Japan totaled 19,628 last year.

Of those, 19 were accepted.

Japan's population is 127,000,000, which is double France's, double Britain's, and 12 times Sweden's

Source: Japan News, February 15 2018, page 3.

Top refugee hosting countries:

1. Jordan (2.7 million)
2. Turkey (2.5 million)
3. Pakistan (1.6 million)
4. Lebanon (1.5 million)
5. Iran (979,400)
6. Ethiopia (736,100)
7. Kenya (553,900)
8. Uganda (477,200)
9. Democratic Republic of Congo (383,100)
10. Chad (369,500)

Source: Al Jazeera

Refugee population of various countries:

Canada: 375,393
Sweden: 230,130
Japan: 2,512
South Korea: 1,773
Germany: 669,408
United Kingdom: 118,913
France: 304,507

Source: The World Bank

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Primetree Akaike


Primetree Akaike is a new shopping mall close to Akaike Station, the last stop on the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway in the eastern suburbs of Nagoya city.

Primetree Akaike, Nagoya.

Primetree Akaike opened in November, 2017 after over a year in construction. The small lake that gave Akaike ("Red Lake") its name was drained and a managed forest was partially cut to create the space for this large, new development.

Primetree Akaike, Nagoya.

On four floors with ample parking on each floor, Primetree has a multiplex Toho cinema on the top floor, an Ito Yokado supermarket and branches of Bic Camera, Gu, KFC, Muji and Starbucks.

Primetree Akaike, Nagoya, Japan.

The first floor has the large Ito Yokado supermarket with a wide choice of imported and domestic foodstuffs, a 7-Eleven convenience store, KFC, Uniqlo, and branches of Y!mobile, au and Softbank. This floor also offers a variety of eateries and cafes including 14Retail, a stand up bar or tachinomiya for Japanese craft ales and wine.

14 Retail, Primetree Akaike, Nagoya.

The second floor is mainly fashion and food including the cut-price retailer Gu with branches of Tully's Coffee and BIC Camera and several restaurants.

The third floor is a mix of books, fashion and food with a large Kinokuniya book, CD, and DVD store rubbing shoulders with branches of J!NS, the discount opticians, Starbucks and Baskin Robbins.

Toho cinema, Primetree Akaike, Nagoya.

The fourth floor is occupied by the Toho multiplex cinema and rooftop parking.

Primetree Akaike
Minotoba 1, Akaikecho
Aichi Prefecture, 470-0126
Tel: 052 807 7111

Hours: 1F-3F shops daily 10am-9pm; 2F restaurants 11am-10pm; 4F Toho cinema 9am-midnight.

There is free Wifi throughout the mall.

Uniqlo, Primetree Akaike, Nagoya.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, February 12, 2018

Cutting Back

Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto.
Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto

Timber Press

by Leslie Buck

ISBN: 978-1604697933
279 pp

In her mid-thirties, Leslie Buck dropped out of her California life and into a new one in Japan. She moved from a progressive, alternative West Coast milieu to medieval Kyoto.
Already an accomplished landscaper prior to making this decision, she had always wanted to go to Japan - specifically, Kyoto - to apprentice with a master gardener.
Thus begins a journey of self-discovery, a trial fraught with stress, new challenges, and the unknown.
She arrives in Kyoto speaking almost no Japanese. In spite of this, she manages to land a job with one of the leading gardeners in Kyoto, the ancient capital with its many gardens located in the city's temples, shrines, and villas needing to be cared for.
Cutting Back is Buck's story of her quest and her time in Kyoto, both professionally and personally.
Japanese gardening is a man's world, a man's occupation, and an absolutely hierarchical work place. Orders are not questioned but carried out, your superior is right, no matter what you may or may not bring to the job.
For a foreign woman to thrive in this environment requires a level of grit and fearlessness most are not endowed with.
And, for a male reader long resident in Kyoto - in the part of Kyoto that is home to many of the best known gardening companies and gardeners - Cutting Back is not, thankfully an "Eat, Live, Pray" type of memoir. There are of course wise older Asian men in the book - her boss - but he is reticent like almost all Japanese craftsmen. He does not tell, he shows. Thus, there are few scenes of wisdom being dispensed to an eager young foreigner in the mysterious East - Hollywood trope - and many of the actual work in the gardens and Buck's daily life in the city.
Does the author return to the US a more enlightened and holistic person after her time in the gardens of Japan's ancient capital? Read this excellent memoir to find out.

Buy this book from Amazon USA | UK | Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Japan News This Week 11 February 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japan’s Women’s Hockey Team Wants to Be Known for Wins, Not Smiles
New York Times

Japan's Princess Mako postpones wedding to commoner Kei Komuro

Nearly 700 cars still stranded in heavy snow in central Japan
The Mainichi

Japan lays groundwork for boom in robot carers

Okinawa electing a ‘pro-base’ mayor shouldn’t be a surprise
Asia Times

U.S. Marine Corps Sexual Violence on Okinawa
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Stimulants smuggled into Japan in 2017 topped one ton for the second year.

The total came to 1,068 kilograms.

Source: Japan News, February 7 2018, page 3.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe near Kiyosumi-Shirakawa


Kiyosumi-Shirakawa is an atmospheric old area of Tokyo that attracts visitors with its big beautiful Kiyosumi Teien Gardens, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, numerous picturesque shrines and temples, and, more recently, with its up and coming cafe culture.

Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, Tokyo.
Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe, Kiyosumi-Shirakawa
We visited the Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe in, broadly speaking, the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa district (strictly speaking, a district called Hirano). The stand-alone big dark wooden building is striking in itself and was originally a warehouse, nicely renovated in 2013.

Inside is wood-themed and spacious, the high ceiling adding a massive sense of extra dimensionality to what is a large enough, but not massive, floor area.

Inside Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe, Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, Koto-ku, Tokyo.
Inside Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe, Kiyosumi-Shirakawa

Allpress Espresso is a New Zealand company, and its Kiwi roots are apparent in some of the food on sale, notably the Anzac biscuit that tugged this expat Kiwi's heartstrings and had to be ordered. Another was the Long Black on the coffee menu that, again, gave me no choice. My partner ordered the Cafe Mocha.

The staff was welcoming and friendly, the Long Black was expertly brewed without a hint of bitterness, the mocha had synergy (unlike our homemade ones which taste like nothing more than coffee and cocoa), and the Anzac biscuit was also good as my mum's!

The roastery at Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe, Tokyo.
The roastery of Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe
The roastery and café are separated by plate glass, giving the whole space an integrated feel, and giving customers the chance to see the product being roasted right there. Coffee can also be bought here, of course, for about 1,800 yen for 250 g and about 7,000 yen per kg.

We sat out the front and enjoyed the tranquility of life as it is lived in this big, broad, easygoing part of the metropolis over great coffee and cookies.

Extra bonus: the spotless, high-tech bathroom facilities.

8am - 5pm Monday to Friday,
9am - 6pm Saturday, Sunday, public holidays

Address & Tel.
3-7-2 Hirano Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0023, Japan
Tel. 03 5875 9392

The counter at Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe, Kiyosumi-Shirakawa neighborhood, Tokyo.
The counter at Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe
Allpress Espresso Tokyo Roastery & Cafe website

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan

Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan.
by Matsui Kesako
Translated by David Crandall
JPIC, 2016
ISBN: 4-9160-5558-6
Hardback, 242 pp

Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan by Matsui Kesako was originally written as a television script for an NHK educational series on kabuki. Novelist Matsui brings her story-telling talent to bear as she selects ten of the most famous and influential kabuki plays of the Edo Period beginning with Danjiro I's Shibaruku, staged at the end of the 17th century and ending with Mokuami's Sannin Kichisa, which appeared just before the downfall of the Tokugawa regime and Japan's opening up to the West in the late 1860's. Easily accessible to the lay reader and non-kabuki specialist and expertly translated by the American Noh specialist, David Crandall, Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan is no dry academic text. Specialist terminology and references are kept for the extensive Notes section at the end of the book. The book races along at a fair pace and one of the book's many strengths is its thought-provoking drawing of parallels to both contemporary and classic entertainment forms such as film, manga, opera, novels and transgender revue. For example, Matsui compares Sannin Kichisa with the 1960's Hollywood classic Bonnie & Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (The Ghost Story of Yotsuya) is seen as a forerunner of the Japanese horror smash, The Ring and the account of Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy) draws comparison with the Old Testament and The Song of the Nibelungs.
Kabuki indeed was the cinema of its day, constantly seeking for innovation with its cutting-edge use of special effects, horror, music and costume. Kabuki actors were akin to contemporary movie stars and their appearance in a particular production could ensure its success with an audience. As a knock-on effect of kabuki's popularity, the dramatic form had an influence on contemporary fashion with commoners mimicking the hairstyles and kimono of their on-stage heroes. Kabuki also borrowed much from the puppet repertory (bunraku) of the day, also massively popular at the time and if kabuki can be equated with the grand scale of cinema, bunraku has similarities with the condensed form of anime and manga. The two art forms both competed with and stimulated each other during the Edo era with writers, promoters and directors often graduating from bunraku to kabuki and vice versa.
As in cinema and manga, however, times, tastes and fashions changed and Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan places each of the ten plays it analyses in their particular socio-economic and historical context. Sannin Kichisa has a Great Depression era feel of angst and violence to it that must have been the prevailing mood as the Tokugawa shogunate came crashing down, Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami (Summer Festival: Mirror of Osaka) portrays a similar feeling of economic woe as a chivalrous commoner is driven to violence after being swindled, evoking comparison to some of the film roles of Takakura Ken. Kabuki: A Mirror of Japan is enriched with color photographs and black and white illustrations and should be on the must-read lists of students of Japan's history and culture as well as theater fans hoping to enjoy a performance of kabuki in Japan or their home country.

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© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Japan News This Week 4 February 2018


Japan News This Week.

Eleven People Killed in Fire at Japanese Seniors Welfare Facility
New York Times

Japan's amazing snowmen will blow your mind

Drastic relaxation of restrictions proposed for indoor smoking sparks criticism
The Mainichi

Japan cryptocurrency exchange to refund stolen $400m

Japan, South Korea scramble fighters to intercept Chinese military planes
Asia Times

Nanjing 1937: The Film
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


At the end of October 2017, the number of foreign workers resident in Japan totaled 1,278,760.

This hit a record - the fifth straight year of record growth.

By nationality, Chinese represented the largest group at 372,263. Vietnamese came in second with 240,259. Rounding out the top five nations were the Philippines, Brazil, and Nepal.

Source: Japan News, January 28, 2018, page 3

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, February 02, 2018

Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla

Let's face it: product manuals, while incredibly useful, are not compelling reading, no matter how invested we are in the product itself. And let's also face it, no matter how much you've invested in your trip to Tokyo, the guide book you also invested in might not be as get-into-able as you'd like it to be.

Cover of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson, published by Tuttle.
Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson.
American manga cartoon artist, Abby Denson, proffers a fun solution: Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla. There! Irresistible already - not to mention the cute, colorful cartoons on the semi-gloss cover.

From the New Words prefacing every chapter, your guide, the mauve colored Kitty Sweet Tooth, takes you through your upcoming trip to Tokyo, starting with things to prepare: a JR Rail Pass, tickets to the Ghibli Museum, specific festivals to check out depending on when you'll be there, and useful websites (but JapanVisitor.com Tokyo guide, which is hands-down the most in-depth Tokyo tourist information of any other Tokyo guide site out there, is not listed. Horrors!)

Traditional Japanese entertainment covered in Cover of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson, from Tuttle Publishing.
Traditional Japanese entertainment covered in Cover of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson.

This guide is more about how information is presented than what is presented. It's information you'll find in any guidebook worth its salt, but it's the eminent accessibility of the information here that makes Cool Tokyo Guide worth having. After the above-mentioned pre-departure tips come chapters - an average of 8 to 10 pages of simple, jazzy quarter- or half-page cartoon frames - covering getting around (trains, taxis, rendezvous spots, etc.), survival skills (toilets, shopping, police, pharmacies, etc.), food, entertainment, shopping, sightseeing spots, kids, "culture shock funnies", and hotel-related advice.

Dozens, scores, if not hundreds, of snippets of info and advice - from the titillating to the essential - are included in these engagingly drawn and handwritten illustrations. They are observations and tips that the author conveys from experience. You can tell. They're compelling. But, to take up the product manual analogy again, Cool Tokyo Guide is a product overview, not step-by-step instructions, which, considering the vastness of the product: Tokyo, is the best anyone can manage in just under 130 pages (which even include, however, a final chapter on nearby Yokohama and other extra-metropolitan day-trips).

Accommodation and dining out information, in Traditional Japanese entertainment covered in Cover of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson, published by Tuttle.
Accommodation and dining out information, in Traditional Japanese entertainment covered in Cover of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, by Abby Denson.

Cool Tokyo Guide is a guidebook chocolate box, to be picked from at random and nibbled on, and shared with travel companions , in bits and bites, ideally on the plane coming over. There are numerous specific recommendations of restaurants and sightseeing spots, but, lacking area guides, it won't be of much use when you're actually stomping the sidewalks of Tokyo. (The "offbeat, upbeat tour of Tokyo" emblazoned at the top of the cover is a little misleading. Spots covered on the same page are often in completely different areas of the metropolis.) However, as an imaginative, amusing appetizer it will introduce you to the flavors of Tokyo you're most interested in trying, and ease you into the heavier and less colorful, but more savory, Tokyo guidebook you'll need when walking the streets.

Buy this book from Amazon USA | UK | Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, January 29, 2018

Japanese Inns & Hot Springs Book Review

Japanese Inns & Hot Springs Book Review.
by Rob Goss & Akihiko Seki (Photographer)

ISBN: 4-8053-1392-7

240 pp

There are thousands of ryokans and onsens in Japan, filled with everything from kitsch to classic, from plastic to natural, and from relatively cheap to "how much have you got?"
Akihiko Seki and Rob Goss have written a beautiful book (published in 2017) elaborating on what they consider to be the 40 best of these ryokans and onsens. Some of the places mentioned are small, including some with only three rooms. One of these three-room inns, Tenku-No-Mori in Kyushu, is located on 148 acres.
Many of the places mentioned are quite old. For example, the Houshi Onsen in Ishikawa dates back 1,300 years (built in 718) and is called "the second oldest hotel in the world.”
There are beautiful pictures throughout the book, making it quite suitable as a coffee table book. Just flipping through the book might help the reader relax and feel he is already halfway to an unforgettable experience.
The writing style is elegant and informative. This was not written by a smug adolescent trying to be funny or cute.
The book starts with a two page map of Japan with a (maybe too) tiny picture of each onsen and where it is located on the map. Nine of the onsens are in Kyoto.
There are then a few pages on The Ryokan Experience (a quick but delicious explanation of the food you will get at a ryokan, and a brief description of what you will find at a ryokan). Following that there are a few pages on A Tradition of Fine Hospitality (an interesting history of how ryokans came about) and finally a few pages on A Guide to Etiquette (what to do and not to do in ryokans).
The book is then divided into five sections: Around Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara, Central Japan, Western and Southern Japan and finally Hokkaido and Northern Japan. The book concludes with two pages on Ryokan Travel Tips, discussing the best times to go, how to make bookings, access to ryokans, what is included in the cost of one night etc.
It is not until literally the last paragraph of the book, on page 215, where the costs of the ryokans are fully explained. Each of the 40 ryokans covered had a small section at the end listing the formal name (in English and Japanese), address, phone number, web site, e-mail, number or rooms and room rate. The room rates are listed from ¥ (the cheapest) to ¥¥¥¥¥ (the most expensive), but it isn't until page 215 that the meaning is explained.
The ¥ means around $100 US (about ¥11,300 as this review is written). The ¥¥ means $200, the ¥¥¥ means $300, the ¥¥¥¥ means $500 and the ¥¥¥¥¥ means $1,000. This being Japan, that is the cost per person per night. If a family of four were to stay in the lone ¥¥¥¥¥ ryokan, it would cost $4,000 (¥452,000) per night. The cost does, however, include nice meals.
Of the 40 ryokans listed, two are ¥, one is ¥¥, 15 are ¥¥¥, 21 are ¥¥¥¥ and one is ¥¥¥¥¥. That lone ¥¥¥¥¥ ryokan is the aforementioned Tenku-no-mori in Kagoshima, Kyushu in case you feel like splashing out.
If you can't afford even one night at any of these ryokans or onsens, the book is still a pleasure to have and to browse through.

Marshall Hughes

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© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Japan News This Week 28 January 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japan Volcano Eruption Kills Soldier and Injures Skiers at Resort
New York Times

Camera captures deadly avalanche's ash cloud in Japan

Okinawa Gov. Onaga denounces US military as 'crazy' after latest chopper incident
The Mainichi

Stairway to heaven: hiking ancient pilgrimage trails in southern Japan

Does Japan really want nuclear weapons?
Asia Times

From Nanjing to Okinawa – Two Massacres, Two Commanders
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The Tokyo Stock Exchange topped 24,000 for the first time in 26 years.

The Nikkei average, which consists of 225 stocks, finished at 24,124 on January 23.

That was the market's best average since November 14, 1991.

Source: Japan News, January 24, 2018, page 1

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bending Over Backwards in Japanese: Nokezoru


A month or so ago I got a horrifically bloodshot left eye, which meant I had to wear sunglasses day and night for about three weeks to avoid frightening people.

I have never been prone to bloodshot eyes, and can only surmise that it was caused by a recent addition to my daily exercise regime. Hands placed on buttocks, I would bend over backwards as far as I could then rhythmically bounce my torso against this limit about 20 times in order to increase dorsal flexibility, and the acuteness of the angle I could lean back at, day by day. I noticed, though, that throwing my head that far back constricted blood flow through my neck somewhat, increasing the pressure on the blood vessels in my head, and palplably in my eyes.

On looking in the mirror one day after a few days of this, I was very taken aback to see what looked like Dracula staring back at me. A capiliary or two in my left eye had popped, turning the nose-side half of my eye solid crimson.

Bending over backwards is not something I commonly talk about, so I had to look up what to say to the doctor. I found that the word described both my original action undertaken on the balcony every morning overlooking the Tokyo Skytree and the Kokugikan over the Sumida River, and my reaction when I saw myself in the mirror.

Tokyo Skytree, Sumida ward, Tokyo, at dawn.
Tokyo Skytree at dawn, from across the Sumida River

nokezoru: the noke here is a special pronunciation of the first kanji, 仰, which is usually pronounced ao(gu) 仰ぐ. The left radical is for "person" 人 and the right (the obscure kanji, 卬) is for "lofty," for a clear, simple picture of someone with face raised.

Go to a doctor or chiropractor or the like, and you're very likely to hear "aomuke" (仰向け) as in "Aomuke ni natte kudasai" ("Please [lie down] face upwards." Aogu has several other meanings: (1) to look up (at); (2) to look up (to); to respect; to revere; (3) to ask for; to seek; (4) to turn to someone; to depend on; (5) to gulp down; to quaff; to take (e.g. poison) (Source: Jim Breen's WWWJDIC), but all of them are related to having the face oriented upwards: looking up in respect, for help, or when recklessly tipping something down your throat.

The "zoru" here is the kanji 反る, pronounced "soru" when it appears by itself. (s regularly changes to z in Japanese when it comes in the middle of a word, such as in the place name Kanazawa: the "zawa" is actually the word "sawa," meaning "marsh.") soru means to arch, as a cat does its back or as an archer does his or her bow.

So nokezoru means to bend backwards. In English to bend backwards has the figurative meaning of exerting oneself and making an all-out effort. However, the figurative meaning in Japanese is as follows:

のけぞる (nokezoru).
Taken aback! (Nokezotta)
i.e., being taken aback, surprised, and has nothing to do with the figurative English meaning.

But rather than being used all alone in its figurative sense, nokezoru is added to an expression conveying surprise, further amplifying it. For example, Bikkuri shite nokezotta (Literally, "I was surprised and bent backwards" or, more naturally translated, "I was floored!")

So to get back to the opening scenario,
Nokezorisugite, me no juuketsu o shita.  のけぞり過ぎて目の充血をした。(I leaned too far backwards and gave myself a bloodshot eye.)
Kagami de miru to hidokatta kara bikkuri shite nokezotta. 鏡でみるとひどかったからびっくりしてのけぞった。(I looked in the mirror, and it was awful, so I got a real shock.)

Finally, feel free to write a comment about something that made you bend over backwards in surprise recently!

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kawashima textiles from the village of Ichihara


The textiles made by the famous firm of Kawashima are everywhere in Japan - in its trains, planes, homes and offices. From traditional obi, painstakingly crafted by hand, to huge theater curtains, Kawashima textiles are synonymous with quality.

Kawashima textiles from the village of Ichihara.

They've even earned themselves the approval of the Imperial Household which has commissioned Kawashima tapestries for the Akasaka, Showa and Kyoto palaces. If you'd like to see the craft traditions of Kyoto at their living best, why not pay their workrooms a visit?

Kawashima began in 1843 as a kimono wholesaler in Kyoto's Muromachi district. It wasn't until 1880, however, when the founder's son, Jinbei Kawashima II, resurrected a neglected technique of brocade weaving called tsuzure that the company's fortunes were assured. The introduction of power looms and the construction of a modern weaving mill in 1918 gave added impetus to its progress.

Then came the war. In the aftermath, Kawashima managed to survive by supplying fabric for the homes and cars of Occupation personnel. Kawashima made a virtue of necessity, though - in no time that had become the basis of a new field of enterprise. When Kawashima opened its Ichihara factory in 1964, it showed rare foresight and designed it to be visitor-friendly. They are proud of what they make and welcome observation. All rooms have big glass windows so the manufacturing processes are in plain sight.

Kawashima textiles from the village of Ichihara.

The factory is divided into two parts: the first is where carpets and curtains are machine made. Here you can also see threads and yarns being dyed. In the second part you can observe such traditional products as obi and kimono being hand made. When you see that it takes skilled professionals an entire day to weave three centimeters of an obi, you begin to realize why they're so expensive!

This part of the factory, too, is where Kawashima makes its huge stage curtains, or doncho. In a cavernous room, as many as ten weavers work away on a huge tsuzure loom in what is a marvelous combination of human talent and technology. One curtain can be 24 meters wide and 6 meters high and usually takes about six months to complete.

Kawashima Textile School.

In addition to the factory, Kawashima also operates a Textile School and a Textile Museum in Ichihara. The school was started in 1973 to teach weaving, dyeing, and other textile skills. The Kawashima Textile Museum, opened in 1984, has a rotating collection of about 80,000 textiles from ancient Japan, China, Persia, and other countries. A stop in their museum would provide a useful perspective on the textiles you saw being made at their factory and would be a good way to end your visit to Ichihara.

To get to Kawashima's scenic location, take the Keifuku Railway from Demachiyanagi to Ichihara, and then walk south for ten minutes. There are also buses (number #52) from Kokusaikaikan Station on the north-south Karasuma Line of the Kyoto subway.

Kawashima Selkon
265 Ichihara-cho, Shizuichi
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 601-1192
Tel: (075) 741 4111 (Japanese)

Open: Textile Museum, 10am-4.30pm (admission until 4pm).
Reservation required for factory visit. Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and National Holidays.

The graduation exhibition of the Kawashima Textile School will be held at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art Annex from February 14-18.

Content by Your Japan Private Tours a tour operator with over 30 years of experience all over Japan (Tokyo area, Kyoto area, and all major tourist destination favourites). Visit us at www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com today!

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Japan News This Week 21 January 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japan Balks at Calls for New Apology to South Korea Over ‘Comfort Women’
New York Times

Japan warns over North Korean 'charm offensive'

3 hibakusha recognized as having A-bomb diseases by Osaka High Court
The Mainichi

'Dementia towns': how Japan is evolving for its ageing population

Decoding Softbank’s mercurial chief, Masayoshi Son
Asia Times

U.S. Military Base Construction at Henoko-Oura Bay and the Okinawan Governor’s Strategy to Stop It
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In a 2011 poll of approximately 300 Japanese married couples yet to have children, 70% answered they loved their partner. There was no statistical difference in replies of the wives or husbands.

When a child was born and became two years old, the same question was asked of the same couples. It elicited very different results. 50% of husbands said they were in love with their wives. Just 30% of wives, though, answered that they loved their husbands.

Source: Asahi Shinbun, January 16, page 2

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Shinjuku


The Alley ("It's Time for Tea") is a tea cafe that opened in Taiwan just four years ago, in 2013, and with a presence now in seven other countries, including Japan, where there are five branches, all in Tokyo.

The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang tea cafe in Lumine 1, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Lumine 1, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

We visited the Alley cafe in the Lumine 1 building in Shinjuku on Saturday evening. In Japan, the chain is known as The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang, the Chinese characters for Lu Jiao Xiang meaning something like "Deerhorn Street." The store logo therefore features a deer with prominent antlers.

We had seen The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang before - both here and on Omotesando (where there is another famous Taiwanese cafe: Ice Monster). We were drawn by the idea of it being a tea cafe, as neither of us are big coffee drinkers, and by its New Age cred, in that everything, from the sugar cane syrup, to the tapioca that features in many brews, to the naturally roasted tea leaves, is supposedly "handmade," or at least prepared in-house or according to the store's stipulations.

Having tapioca in tea is another draw, for the novelty of it.

There was a modest queue at the little stand-up cafe that the Lumine Shinjuku branch is, and we only had to wait a minute before we were served.

A tea-and-cocoa at The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Lumine 1, Shinjuku, Tokyo.
 Tea-and-cocoa at The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Lumine 1, Shinjuku (complete with little chocolate bear!)

The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Lumine must be doing good business, because there were no less than five people lined along the very small space behind the counter, working non-stop at preparing drinks, with one at the end taking orders.

The menu was fun to choose from, divided into Tapioca Series, Milk Tea Series, Fresh Tea and THE ALLEY Specialties, and sporting brews with grand names like Royal No.9 Tapioca Milk Tea, exotic names like Jasmine Green Milk Tea, and romantic names like In Love With Lemonway.

My partner went for the THE ALLEY Assam Tapioca Milk Tea and I for what was a special of the day, a tea-and-cocoa mix. (It's deep winter in Japan - I wanted it hot! It was nice to know, though, that "mild-hot" is also available for those with a "cat's tongue" as the phrase goes in Japanese.)

Conveniently, there was a little store selling Japanese confectionery just across the aisle, so we bought a couple of daifuku (a kind of o-mochi, or pounded rice, sweet with azuki bean paste inside) while waiting for our drinks to arrive. For a daifuku connoiseur I was impressed. They were knock-out delicious.

Our drinks arrived: generously sized L's for about 600 yen each, which makes The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang pretty good value for money compared with other hip cafes. My drink was good. It smelt and tasted exactly like what it was: tea mixed with cocoa. My partner's drink had the novelty of tapioca, a first for both of us. I had a few sips and very much enjoyed the silky sensation of the chewy globules of tapioca in my mouth, and the tea it was part of tasted fine.

Our only reservations were that the flavors were somewhat two-dimensional. A drink tasting just like its description is well and good - for around 600 yen it certainly should. But for 600 yen, it should have a litte extra: at least a hint of a "secret recipe" going on, something that not only has you going "Mmm," but raising a pleasantly surprised eyebrow wondering what that "hidden" element, that intangible gustatory stimulus, might be.

Half melted chocolate bear that accompanied my tea-and-cocoa at  tea-and-cocoa at The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang in Lumine 1, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
The little chocolate bear that came with my tea-and-cocoa - after I'd finished with him!
In taste-obsessed Japan, an overseas chain that has managed to get five chains in Tokyo running at full speed must be doing something right. But delivering what you kind of expected - and not a whiff more - is not a business model I thought would cut it.

The Lumine Shinjuku branch of The Alley Lu Jiao Xiang is on the B2 floor of Lumine 1 (Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-5), along from the South Exit of Shinjuku Station (across from Busta Shinjuku) and is open from 8am to 10pm 365 days a year.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baien no Sato


Baien no Sato is an onsen resort in the remote Kunisaki Peninsula of northern Oita, located on a mountain ridge in the southern part of the peninsula, somewhat north of Kitsuki.

Baien no Sato.

As well as a hotel there is also a campsite and comfortable two storey, self catering log houses.

The rooms in the hotel are all Japanese-style with tatami and futons, and they all have en-suite toilets. The rooms have great views down into the valley below.

Baien no Sato, Oita Prefecture.

The onsen is nice, with large pools and a sauna.

The food is seasonal and delicious.

I paid 8,800 yen for a room for myself including the delicious evening meal and breakfast.

What sets Baien no sato apart from other accomodation in the area is that it has an astronomical observatory with the second largest telescope in Kyushu, and guests have access to it under normal conditions.

Baien no Sato, Kitsuki, Oita.

The restaurant, onsen, and telescope are all available for non-residents.

The name Baien comes from Baien Miura (1723-1789), a Japanese philosopher of the 18th century who was influenced by western thinking, especially in the area of science. His former home and a museum dedicated to him are located just below the resort.

Two buses a day stop at the onsen, and three stop in the valley below, but the whole area is best accessed by private car or hire car.

Baien no Sato
2233 Akimachi Tomikiyo
Oita 873-0355
Tel: 0978 64 6300

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Japan News This Week 14 January 2018


Japan News This Week.

Japanese Comedian Who Used Blackface Comes Under Fire Online
New York Times

Okinawa tension: US apologises to Japan over repeat accidents

Civic group proposes bill for Japan to exit nuclear power
The Mainichi

Japanese kayaker banned eight years for spiking rival's drink

Japan's Bomb in the Basement
Asia Times

Gunkanjima / Battleship Island, Nagasaki: World Heritage Historical Site or Urban Ruins Tourist Attraction?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In the Japanese diapers market, sales of adult diapers now surpasses that of the infant diaper market. In 2010, sales of children's diapers totaled 1530 billion yen (roughly USD $135 million). Adult diapers sold 1440 billion yen (USD $127 million). By 2012, adult diapers were selling more than child diapers.

Source: Hakur

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Japanese Anime in Sao Paulo

サンパウロ アニメ

Japan Town, Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Brazil has the world's biggest ethnic Japanese population outside of Japan. Most of the immigration to Brazil to Japan happened in the 1930s, during the Great Depression before the Second World War. Most Japanese immigrants were from rural Japan, and took up agriculture in Brazil, becoming a prominent presence in Brazilian farming, and introducing to Brazil many varieties of vegetables from Japan, such as Japanese pumpkins, cucumber, melons, and Fuji apples, to name a few.

"Yakissoba" on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
"Yakissoba" on Rua Galvão Bueno (requiring two S's in Portuguese for an "S" sound, as opposed to a single-S "Z" sound)

Over time, there was migration to the cities by the descendants of the original immigrants, mainly to Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo.

Lucky Cat Japanese store in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Lucky Cat Japanese store in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Japan store in a mall in Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Japan store in a mall on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The Liberdade area of Sao Paulo is the most Japanese part of the city, with its own Japan Town, immediately noticeable by the number of stores with Japanese names, often selling Japanese-style goods, and, maybe most memorably, the pedestrian signals for crossing the street in this district, which feature a green and a red torii shrine gate symbol, and the red street light poles which are also fashioned somewhat torii-like in how they extend over the street.

Torii-themed traffic crossing lights in Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Torii arch-themed traffic crossing lights in Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Emporio Azuki, Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Emporio Azuki, Japan Town, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

The district is known for its numerous Japanese restaurants, grocers, Japanese gift stores, and martial arts goods.

Anime Hunter store on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Anime Hunter store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Plastic anime figurines in a Japan-themed shopping mall on Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.
Plastic anime figurines in Japan Town, Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo.

Rua Galvão Bueno is the main shopping street that runs through Japan Town in Sao Paulo, and there is one shopping center in particular, with a big Japanese-style facade, at nos.17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, that is home to several anime-related stores. On sale are anime figurines, anime-themed T-shirts, among other paraphernalia.

Kawaii goods from Japan, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Kawaii goods from Japan in a store window in Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

At the far end of Rua Galvão Bueno is a small garden, Jardim Oriental: a nice idea for a bit of greenery in this very urban area, but which sounds better than it looks.

Anime-themed T-shirts, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Anime-themed T-shirts, 17-19 Rua Galvão Bueno, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Murakai Japanese goods store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Murakai Japanese goods store, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The red arch-like streetlights extend all the way down Rua Galvão Bueno past Jardim Oriental after you cross the bridge over the massive Viaduto do Glicerio motorway that lies below. However, once you're over the bridge, the shopping buzz pretty much fizzles, with just a few Japanese presences intermittently visible down it.

Shimada Tattoo parlor, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Shimada Tattoo parlor, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

So if you find yourself in Sao Paulo, make sure you include a stroll through Liberdade, accessible from the station by the same name, on Metro Line 1. Tanoshinde! (Enjoy!)

Towa Japanese grocery, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Towa Japanese grocer, Liberdade, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The Liberdade district - Japan in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Liberdade district - Japan in Sao Paulo.

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

47Regions Manhole T-shirts

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

Visiting Japan can often be a vertical experience. From the majestic peak of Mount Fuji, to the skyscrapers of Tokyo, without forgetting the cherry blossoms in the spring, people find themselves looking up to experience Japanese culture and sights. The mountains of Nagano, the phone wires of suburbs, cranes flying over beautiful gardens. It is easy to forget that there is a whole world to discover at our feet, literally.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts

The reality is that being a tourist can be overwhelming in a country like Japan. There is so much to see, to taste, to take in, that experiences are often sensory-overload! However, a big part of Japanese culture lies in the essence of the delicate, of fine details.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

After living in Japan for years, people develop a great sensibility for those details, and appreciating the simple things, rather than the big "culture shock" moments. The appreciation of a simpler form of beauty, and the idea of a world hidden at our feet are the foundations behind the project that has become 47Regions.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

Manholes aren't something that catch people's eyes, especially when they're outshone by the environment they're surrounded by. 47Regions wants to put a spotlight on the amazing pieces of art that are Japanese manholes. They're colourful, they represent their cities and regions in ever creative ways, and they're at their very core super Japanese and interesting! 47Regions aims to capture Japanese manholes and put them on t-shirts; what better way to "elevate" manholes, and give a way for people to show their appreciation and love of Japanese culture, even to the smallest of details.

47Regions Manhole T-shirts.

You might not notice the manholes you walk on, but you'll certainly notice 47Regions t-shirts! Hand-made in Tokyo by passionate Irishmen, they're the perfect gift for any Japan enthusiast.

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