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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yamate Museum of Tennis Yokohama


As a keen tennis player I was very excited to make the pilgrimage to The Bluff area of Yokohama to see the home of tennis in Japan.

Yamate Museum of Tennis Yokohama, Japan.

The Yamate Museum of Tennis in Yamate Park still has a number of clay courts and the two story wooden club house has exhibits of tennis equipment from the 1870's including racquets, clothing and balls along with period photographs.

Two mannequins model the long skirts worn by female players of the day holding impossibly small wooden racquets. The second floor is the document work room.

Yamate Museum of Tennis Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Tennis was introduced into Japan along with a number of other sports such as baseball, soccer, rugby, golf and cricket during the period of intense westernization from the opening of Japan to the west in the late 1860's to the turn of the century.

Lawn tennis only began in England in 1874 and had spread to Japan just two years later with the first match played in 1876. The Ladies Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was founded here in 1878.

Yamate Museum of Tennis
230, Yamate-cho
Tel: 045 681 8646

Yamate Museum of Tennis Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.

Admission is free and the museum is open from 10am-5pm daily. Closed on the third Monday of the month or the next day if Monday is a public holiday.

The tennis courts are run by the Yokohama International Tennis Community (yitc.org; Tel: 045 681 9528) which is considered to be the oldest tennis club in Japan and a direct descendant of the Ladies Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

The nearest stations to the Yamate Museum of Tennis are Ishikawa-cho Station on the JR Negishi Line and Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line.

Yamate Park also includes the historic Yamate 68 House - a wooden, western-style residence.

Yamate Museum of Tennis Yokohama, Japan.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn in the Kanda/Yushima area of Tokyo is very close to JR Ochanomizu Station and just across the road from Yushima Seido.

You can't miss the distinctive green sign of the hotel as you walk towards Yushima Seido from Ochanomizu Station.

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn, Tokyo.

Rooms are somewhat cramped even by Tokyo standards. There's space for the double bed, a table and that's about it. Single rooms feel more airy. The rooms at the front have a view over to Yushima Seido, though the rooms at the rear of the hotel are quieter, but look over nothing in particular.

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn, Tokyo, Japan.

Highlights of the Hotel Ochanomizu Inn are the excellent free WiFi in the rooms, complimentary coffee and tea at the lobby and the splendid breakfast, western or Japanese-style in the basement Chimuni restaurant.

The location is wonderful as the hotel is within walking distance of Kanda Myojin Shrine, Akihabara, Tokyo University and Tokyo Dome.

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn, Tokyo, Japan.

Hotel Ochanomizu Inn
113-0034 Tokyo
Bunkyo-ku Yushima 1-3-7
Tel: 03 3813 8211

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nanzan Catholic Church


Nanzan Catholic Church is located near the main Nanzan University campus in the up-market streets souch of Irinaka subway station just a little west of Yagoto.

Nanzan Catholic Church, Irinaka, Nagoya.

The early church here began life in 1950 as a Nissen hut with tatami floors to serve the staff of Nanzan school. The modernist church set in lush gardens on a small hill that is seen today was completed in 1958. Nanzan Catholic Church is part of the Catholic Diocese of Nagoya which is centered on Nunoike Cathedral in Shin-Sakae.

Nanzan Catholic Church, Irinaka, Nagoya.

Mass is held in Japanese, English and Vietnamese at various times. Consult the website (below) for full details.

Nanzan Catholic Church
Showa-ku, Nanzan-cho 1
Tel: 052 831 9131

Turn left and left again from exit 2 of Irinaka Station on the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway.

Nanzan Catholic Church, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Japan News This Week 24 May 2015


Japan News.
The Threat to Press Freedom in Japan
New York Times

Japan aquariums to stop buying Taiji dolphins

Japan security council approves bid to build Australian submarines

Tokyo museum to exhibit sex art, breaking ‘shunga’ taboo
Japan Times

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Deeply Flawed Partnership
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


"Income inequality in Japan is above the OECD average and increased since the mid-1980s, as in the majority of OECD countries. In 2009, the average income of the top 10% of Japanese was 10.7 times that of the bottom 10%, up from a ratio of 8 to 1 in the mid-1990s and 7 to 1 in the mid-1980s. This compares to an OECD average of 9.6 to 1 in 2013."

Source: OECD

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Aioiyama Ryokuchi Park Nagoya


Aioiyama Park in Nagoya is a small, forested oasis in the south east of the city's urban sprawl.

Aioiyama Ryokuchi Park Nagoya.

Set around a small hill, the park consists of woods and large areas of bamboo interspersed with small orchards. Aioiyama Ryokuchi Park i one of the few remaining forests in the city that were once used for timber and charcoal.

Aioiyama Park attracts families out for a stroll, joggers and people looking for archaeological finds.

Aioiyama Ryokuchi Park Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

There are signposted walking trails through the park which is full of the tranquil sounds of birds and insects. Look out for the many species of butterflies here in summer.

At this time of year however, the park is a haven for mosquitoes so please keep yourself well-covered and wear a protective spray.

The nearest subway station to Aioiyama Park is Aioiyama on the Sakuradori Line, about a 15 minute walk south of the park. Buses 野並11系統 and 植田11系統 both run close to the park entrance.

Aioiyama Ryokuchi Park Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 64 Nagasaki to Nagaura

A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 64, Nagasaki to Nagaura
Thursday March 6th 2014

I catch a train north out of Nagasaki from Nagasaki Station to avoid the long slog through the city with its rush hour traffic. From Michinoo station it is still really built up and busy but at least I've avoided a long slow climb. I soon reach Togitsu, and, as I am prone to do, I notice the manhole covers that depict some sort of towering rock formation. A little bit further and I can see the rock pillar protruding above the tree on the hillside behind the main road. Apparently it's called Tsugi Ishi Bozu. I decline the detour up the hillside for a closer look.

Once I get to what appears to be the town center I do make a detour. My map shows a big shrine that I fancy exploring. On my way to the shrine I come across what must have been a rich man's house. It is all locked up and there is no signboard explaining what it is or who it belonged to. Not much different from many similar houses I've come across that are open to the public with an entrance fee.

Inari Shrine with fox figurines.

I find the shrine on the hillside nearby. It's an Inari shrine, which are usually very popular, and there are lots of smaller shrines scattered around. Inside the main hall is a statue of a female figure riding a fox, one of the two most common representations of Inari, the other being an old white-haired man carrying rice.

As with all Inari shrines there are hundreds of small fox figurines left as offerings. There is also a white stone komainu though it is very much in Chinese style, not so uncommon in the Nagasaki area I guess.

I head back to the main road and soon reach the shore of Omura Bay. The railway line and expressway head up the eastern shore of the bay and I am taking the route up what I hope to be the much quieter western shore. Lined up on the concrete wharf here at the southern edge there are four Ebisu statues. Probably collected together here from the surrounding neighborhood. Ebisu seems to be very popular here in Nagasaki.

The main road hugs the shore where infill and concrete have extended the land out into the water. Fortunately I can take the older roads that quietly wind through the villages. There are shrines aplenty including several more to Inari. At one shrine there is a sumo ring in the grounds. A raised area of packed earth with a thick rope layed out in a circle embedded in the ground.

Omura Bay, Kyushu, Japan.

Some areas of Japan tend to have sumo rings at shrines whereas some don't. As I get further away from the conurbation of Nagasaki the scenery of the bay becomes prettier. It's a narrow, convoluted bay with lots of small islands. It's actually more like a lake as the inlet into the bay is just a very narrow channel that I will be crossing tomorrow.

There are a lot of love hotels, though they seem to be a little more modern and upmarket than those I usually encounter in rural areas. The traffic thins a little as the day wears on, though detours off the main road to visit shrines are a peaceful break. The road cuts inland and rises to cross over a headland that juts into the bay.

As I come down the other side I see Nagaura nestles along the water ahead. It's still relatively early in the day but I have booked a room here in a small waterfront ryokan. I am the only guest and my room looks out over the water. I spend the last few hours of the day sitting on the dock of the bay watching the colors of the view across the water change as the sun gets lower behind me.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 63

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Osoraku: probability in Japanese

たぶん おそらく

osoraku is a Japanese adverb that means something like "maybe" or "probably" and is used often in Japanese: a language whose speakers often almost delight in its "vagueness."

Learners of Japanese are generally more familiar with tabun, another word that expresses possibility or probability. tabun is  much more likely to appear in textbooks for Japanese language learners than is osoraku.

However, if you want to add an extra level of sophistication to your Japanese, it pays to know how to use tabun and osoraku because, while there is overlap between them, many situations will call for tabun and not osoraku.

The first thing we'll look at when differentiating these two words is the kanji that forms them. tabun is made up of 多 (ta) meaning "a lot, many, a great number/quantity" and 分 (bun) which means "part(s)." If you take "parts" as meaning parts per hundred, or the familiar idea of percentage, then tabun means "a high percentage," i.e., a good chance, a high probability, a better than average likelihood. In other words, tabun expresses a purely mathematical concept.

osoraku on the other hand is a completely different animal in terms of the kanji character it's based on. If tabun is your bespectacled math teacher, osoraku is a monster, the kanji 恐 (onyomi: kyo) standing for fear, dread and awe, usually expressed in the kunyomi adjective osorashii (terrible, dreadful, terrifying, frightening). However, in solving the puzzle of how and why this scary word is used to express something as everyday as probability, an English analogy readily comes to the rescue: the way we sometimes use "fear" in English, as in "I fear we'll never see him again."

"We'll probably never see him again" (たぶん再開することがないでしょう。 Tabun saikai suru koto ga nai desho)is a flat statement of probability, whereas "I fear we'll never see him again" (おそらく再開することがないでしょう。 Osoraku saikai suru koto ga nai desho)carries a clear emotional message of regret at probably never meeting again.

osoraku should therefore be used only in situations where the probability being expressed is unpalatable, undesirable, regrettable. Whereas tabun has a broader reach and can cover any possibility, desirable or undesirable.

Therefore, for example, when looking at old photos: "That's probably Mary." would be "Tabun Mary da." No one will think twice if you say "Osoraku Mary da," but tabun is better here.

Similarly if you're looking for the family dog: "He probably went that way." "Tabun achi itta daro." is better, but "Osoraku achi itta daro" is also okay.

However, you shouldn't use osoraku when the probable result is desirable. "Tabun kekkon suru daro" (They'll probably get married.) is a neutral expression of probability, but if you were to say "Osoraku kekkon suru daro" it would indicate that the likely prospect of those two getting married sends shivers up your spine.

To sum up, feel free to use tabun for any probability; it is completely neutral and covers all bases. However, exercise a little caution with osoraku and use it only when the possibility being expressed is one you'd rather not happen.

Now try the following osoraku test. Which sentences can use "osoraku"? (Answers below.)
1. Ashita wa ________ ame desho. (It'll possibly rain tomorrow.)
2. Bokutachi wa ________ katsu daro. (We could well win.)
3. ________ ma ni awanai daro. (She may well not make it on time.)
4. ________ nakushita yo. (You probably lost it.)
5. ________ mou yoku natta deshou. (It's probably come right already.)

Tabun can be used in all sentences, but osoraku should be used only in sentences one, three and four.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Araki Shusei Museum


Japan is full of weird and wonderful museums many of which are somewhat obscure.

Araki Shusei Museum, Hara, Nagoya.

The Araki Shusei Museum certainly falls in to that category but is well worth a visit if you happen to be in suburban Hara in Nagoya.

A local junior high school teacher Araki sent his students out on archaeological hunts and the results can be seen on the second floor with exhibits of pottery, tools, weapons and ceremonial objects from the earliest periods of Japanese history until the Kamakura Period.

Araki Shusei Museum, Hara, Nagoya, Aichi.

Pieces of interest include an ancient stone lingam and roof tiles made in Nagoya for the temple of the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) in Kamakura.

The first floor has wooden models of floats used in various festivals in the area and throughout Japan, along with a collection of hinanotsurushi ('hanging chicks').

Araki Shusei Museum
Nakahira 5-616
Tel: 052 802 2531
Admission 300 yen for adults.

The Araki Shusei Museum is open 10am-5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is a 15-minute walk up the hill from Hara Station towards Hara Fire Station.

Araki Shusei Museum, Hara, Nagoya, Aichi.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Japan News This Week 15 May 2017


Japan News.
Haruki Murakami’s ‘Strange Library’ and ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’
New York Times

Japan's first post-WWII arms exhibition

In Japan hell is due north

Japan’s rural schools run out of students

Is Japan the new Britain?

Filmmakers Ash and Kamanaka discuss radiation, secrets and lives
Japan Times

The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea and Oura Bay
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


World Competitive Rankings:

1 Switzerland
2 Singapore
4 Finland
5 Germany
6 Japan
7 Hong Kong
8 Netherlands
9 United Kingdom
10 Sweden

Source: World Economic Forum

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Friday, May 15, 2015

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 63 Obama to Nagasaki

A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 63, Obama to Nagasaki
Friday February 21st 2014

The sun may or may not be up as I head out of Obama and take the road north along the coast of Tachibana Bay. Looming over the town the massive Mount Unzen blocks any view of the sun until later in the morning. Looking back, plumes of steam rise from among the buildings, a signature of an onsen town.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 63 Obama to Nagasaki, Japan.

Tachibana Bay is calm and a little darker shade of blue than the sky. A thin line of even darker blue shows the far shore dividing the two expanses of blue. After half an hour I am able to veer off the main road and take route 210 which was once a railway line. I come to a fork just outside the first fishing village. My map says to take the right fork which starts to rise. My natural inclination is to take the lower road that will hug the coast, but I defer to my map.

The road climbs gently and gives a nice overview over the village below and then passes through a narrow tunnel with the distinctive horseshoe shape of a railway tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel I come upon what I presume to be a local TV station making a travel program.

An older man and a younger woman are both dressed in khaki shorts and wearing pith helmets. I resist the urge to shout out "Doctor Livingstone I presume!" With only a cameraman and a sound man as crew I am presuming they are a low budget local TV show something along the lines of "Lets Explore Locally," because the next section of the road is a minor tourist attraction known as the Green Tunnel.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 63 Obama to Nagasaki by Jake Davies.

The road, formerly the railway track, passes through a narrow cutting and the trees growing above have spread their canopy over the narrow cutting thereby creating a “green tunnel”. The road curves around the mountainside passing through several more tunnels. At several points there are great views down onto fishing villages below and along the approaching north shore of the bay.

The road starts to descend as slowly as it ascended and I end up in Chijiwa where the main road now heads west towards Nagasaki. I find a convenience store to stock up at and sit with a coffee and check my maps. I want to avoid the main road if I can. I find a coast road that literally runs between the cliffs and the sea. Perfect. There is no traffic save for the occasional k-truck. The road comes to an end at a small onsen located right on the beach. From here there is no easy way along the coast so I head inland and join up with the main road heading to Nagasaki.

The road is fairly busy and at first there is a sidewalk, but as it leaves the village the sidewalk ends but starts again at the next village. The road is windy and goes up and down, though never steeply, and because of this the view changes often. I am surprised by the number of love hotels around.

It is still about 30 kilometers to Nagasaki, but it is about halfway between Nagasaki and Isahaya, so maybe they serve both populations. Its a fairly uneventful afternoon with a couple of shrine visits, but as the traffic increases closer to Nagasaki it becomes less enjoyable. By late afternoon I have covered 30 kilometers but there is still more than 10 to go and I think maybe 40km is too much. In the summer, with the longish days, 40km is doable, but at this time of the year it is just too much so I check the timetable at the next bus stop and finding a bus imminent I decide to take it. Tomorrow I head home. This leg has seen me cover 190 kilometers, making a total of 1,710 kilometers in total.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 62

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