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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Japan News This Week 24 July 2016


Japan News.
From Japan, a ‘Chicago’ You Probably Haven’t Seen
New York Times

Pokemon Go finally launches in Japan

Japan's $1m fertility gambit to help women become mothers

Okinawa protests erupt as U.S. helipad construction resumes
Japan Times

Hinin Taiheiki: The Paupers’ Chronicle of Peace
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The countries with the highest shares of organic agricultural land under cultivation in 2013:

1. Falkland Islands (Malvinas): 36.3%
2. Lichtenstein: 30.9%
3. Austria: 19.4%
4. Sweden: 16.4%
5. Estonia: 16.2%
6. Samoa: 14.3%
7. Switzerland: 12.7%
8. Sao Tome and Principe: 12.%
9. Latvia: 11.2%
10. Czech Republic: 11.1%
11. Italy: 10.8%

??. Japan: 0.8%
??. USA: 0.7%

Source: FIBL

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan


Pokemon Go finally launched in the land of its birth yesterday and there are already thousands of young people in Japan playing the addictive game.

Pokemon Go In Japan

There is lots of cool and cute Pokemon Go merchandise on sale in Japan that is not available elsewhere in the world.

If you would like to source Pokemon Go goods on Yahoo Auctions, Rakuten, Amazon Japan or at the Pokemon Centers in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo-Bay (Chiba) and Yokohama please contact us for Pokemon Go orders.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.

Pokemon Go items available on Amazon that do not ship overseas (which we can purchase for you ) include Cosplay items, cute soft toys and a range of smart phone holders for your bike.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba

The Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba is one of the best hotels in Tsukuba located right in the center of the city near Tsukuba train and bus stations. The hotel consists of the main building and an annex, which also hosts the hotel's pool, which is open to visitors and requires an extra charge for guests.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Ibaraki.

Rooms at the Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba are clean and spacious with good Wifi. There are free complimentary English newspapers, a spacious lobby with business services and a beer garden in the hotel car park in summer.

The hotel offers two restaurants: one serving Japanese food, the other Chinese-style.

The location of the hotel couldn't be more convenient as it is located right at Tsukuba Station with bus and train connections to Tokyo and further afield.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.

The Okura Frontier Hotel is popular with foreign visitors for conferences and vacations. The hotel is connected to the Tsukuba Center Building which has some excellent dining choices including the recommended Spanish-style restaurant, Bond. In the nearby Bivi Building try the Saza cafe for excellent coffee and quiche.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Japan.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba
Azuma 1-1364-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0032

Just a little to the south of Tsukuba Station near Takezono Park is the 4-star Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba Epochal.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Brazil Festival in Tokyo 2016

The Brazil Festival is an annual summer event in Tokyo, at the always buzzing and crowded Yoyogi Event Plaza, across from big, sprawling, action-packed Yoyogi Park, and right next to the Yoyogi National StadiumFestival Brasil 2016 happened there again last weekend.

The Tokyo area has a large Brazilian population, much of it in quite rural areas. The Brazil Festival, held here every summer, is where they all come together and celebrate brasilianismo.

The festival was held over two days, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was the better-attended day, maybe because the next day, Monday, was a national holiday, Umi no Hi (Day of the Sea).

It was a festival in the true sense of the word, with food galore, drink galore and music and dancing everywhere. Not to mention the costumes. That bewitchingly Brazilian mix of skimpiness and uber-decoration was on full display, and sartorial expressiveness was a hallmark of the event.

The food included churrasco, from the nearby Barbacoa Grill on Omotesando Street, as well as coxinha, acai, and pastels, to name a few.

Dozens of stalls represented the numerous Brazilian-run and Brazil-oriented businesses in Japan. One of the most popular was the Brastel Remit money remittance stall, near the pedestrian overpass to Yoyogi Park. The Brastel booth was fitted around with jets that emitted a fine cooling spray, encouraging people to tarry a while in the mid-summer heat of the day.

The music stage was an all-day blend of every genre from rock to pop to a cute song and dance act featuring the long-running Brazilian children's cartoon, Turmo da Monica.

Nationality, too, was just as varied as everything else on the day, with people from dozens of countries imbibing the exuberant,
uniquely Brazilian atmosphere.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Japan News This Week 17 July 2016


Japan News.
Emperor Akihito of Japan Plans to Abdicate Throne, Broadcaster Says
New York Times

Japan PM Shinzo Abe claims victory in parliamentary election

Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory

Views from Kyoto: What does the future hold for hemp in Japan?
Japan Times

Are Asia’s Energy Choices Limited to Coal, Gas or Nuclear?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan spends very little on public education. A trip to any public school makes this clear. However, in a comparison of OECD member states, it becomes even clearer how little Japan spends.

For example, Japan spends 0.5% of its budget on tertiary education. In comparison, the United States spends 1.4%,  the Netherlands the same 1.4%.

Only tiny Luxembourg spends a lower percentage of its national budget than Japan.

Source: OECD

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

K’s Hills: a Classic Osaka Gay Bar Experience

ケイズ・ヒルズ  ゲイバー

Some bars try to be all things to tall people, be it vibe or orientation. K’s Hills, a bar in Osaka’s Doyama gay area, makes no such efforts. It does what it does well, with class, and with no apologies. With a location just a few minutes’ walk from Osaka or Umeda stations, K’s Hills is easily accessible. Add in the friendly and caring staff, and you’re bound to find it easily approachable too.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka where a warm welcome awaits.
K Hill's in Osaka - a warm welcome awaits

K’s Hills has seating for about fifteen, though if you’re willing to get a bit cozy, a few more can probably find a place rest their butt. They’ve got karaoke, which is free on weekdays, but may run you 100 yen or so per song on weeknights. That said, a nice smile just may get that charged waived.

Since this is a more premium gay bar/lounge experience, you are going to be the beneficiary of attentive, finely honed service, but this also naturally means you will pay more than “shot bar” prices. Figure on 1,600 yen for your first drink (it will come with a little snack too), and 700-800 yen per drink after that.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka with a loungy vibe.- and no smoking.
Loungy (but smoke-free) K's Hills

K’s Hills has been in business for over fifteen years, so you know they are doing something right. With about 70% of their customers being regulars, it’s just the right mix for conviviality without the potential to exclude first timers. On weekdays, women accompanied by men are permitted, but on weekends K’s Hills is a strictly gay male affair.

With karaoke crooning and all, K’s is a laid back affair. Nice to come to by yourself, or with a small group of friends. In the case of the latter, bottle service is a tempting, and potentially economical option.

While of course any age is welcome (the bar owner and manager is in his 50s), it can be said that the bulk of the clientele is in their 20s to mid 30s.

K's Hills is a non-smoking bar.

The entrance to K's Hills gay bar in Osaka.
The entrance to K's Hills - gay bar in Osaka

K’s is located at 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, on the fifth floor. You can see their name on the big bright sign showing the building’s tenants from street level.

K's Hills
5/F Nakadori Building, 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan

Hours: 8 pm - 4 am on weekdays and till 5 am on weekends.

K's Hills on Twitter

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso


The so-called "Momosuke Bridge" in Nagiso on the Nakasendo in Nagano Prefecture is a wooden, suspension bridge across the Kiso River built by the industrialist Momosuke Fukuzawa (1868-1938), the adopted son of the famous politician and reformer, Yukichi Fukuzawa.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

The wooden, suspension bridge was completed in 1922 and was part of the project to build hydro-electric power stations along the Kiso River. The bridge was constructed to transport construction materials. The nearly 248 meter bridge is one of the longest such wooden bridges in Japan.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

Momosuke Fukuzawa became extremely wealthy during his lifetime and was the lover of Sadayakko Kawakami - the Meiji and Taisho-era entertainer, known as the "geisha who wowed the West" following her successful tours of America and Europe. Their palatial, western-style love nest on the "Cultural Path" in Nagoya is now preserved as the Futaba Museum.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso.

Momosuke Bridge is a short walk north from JR Nagiso Station. Nagiso is about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Nagoya Station on the JR Chuo Line with a change at Nakatsugawa Station.

The bridge is illuminated by LEDs at night.

Momosuke Bridge Nagiso, Nagano Prefecture.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Japan News This Week 10 July 2016


Japan News.
U.S. Moves to Limit Protections for Its Civilian Military Workers in Japan
New York Times

Japan gamer who went to play naval arcade game and found real sailors

Bunch of grapes sells for £8,350 in Japan

Young voters hope to reform Japan’s ‘silver democracy’
Japan Times

Retaking Japan: The Abe Administration’s Campaign to Overturn the Postwar Constitution
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


According to an Asahi Shinbun poll, 92% of Japanese support Hillary Clinton.

Of the 1,935 respondents to the question "Hillary or Trump?," only 8% support Donald Trump.

The top two reasons were "(Hillary) is less bad than Trump" and "(she is) not extreme."

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Music Festivals in Japan 2016

Here is a listing of this year's music festivals in Japan for the summer of 2016.

Rock and Electronic

Fuji Rock Festival

July 22-24, Naeba Ski Resort, Nagano Prefecture featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Kula Shaker, The Boredoms, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Baby Metal. For the full line-up and ticket details see the website below.
www.fujirockfestival.com (3-day ticket 39,800 yen)

Music Festivals in Japan 2016.

Rock in Japan

August 6-7 & 13-14, Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki with The Winking Owl, Aimer, White Ash, Bump of Chicken, Rip Slyme, The Yellow Monkey, Suck A Stew Dry, Puffy, Totalfat. See the website for the full line-up and ticket information.

Rising Sun Festival (RSR)

August 12-13, Ishikari, Hokkaido with domestic Japanese bands including Sim, Baby Metal, Brahman, Kemuri, Rottengraffty, U A, Grapevine. Tickets 18,500 yen for the 2 days.

Summer Sonic

August 20-21, Tokyo (QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe) and Osaka (Maishima) with Suede, Underword, Fergie, Radiohead, James Bay. 30,500 yen for the two days.


Sept 17-19, Naeba Greenland, Niigata. Quality techno festival in the hills of Niigata Prefecture.

Ringo Fes

August 24-25, Matsumoto. Polaris, Tha Blue Herb, Tofu Beats, Pushim, Nabowa, Eastern Youth.

Other Festivals

Sapporo City Jazz

July-August, Sapporo

Pacific Music Festival (classical)

July-August, Sapporo

Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (classical)

August 9-September 9, Matsumoto, Nagano

Orchestra, Chamber, Opera.

Monterey Jazz Festival

July 30, Noto, Ishikawa. Tickets 5,000 yen.

Tokyo Jazz Festival

Sept 2-5, Tokyo International Forum, Cotton Club

Herbie Hancock, Anthony Jackson, Christian McBride, Pat Metheny.

Tokyo Idol Festival

August 5-7, Diver City Tokyo, Odaiba. Aicune, Miki Ichisaki, AKB48 Team 8, QunQun, Gang Parade. Tickets 14,800 yen for 3 days.

World Music & Dance Festival

August 5-11, Motomachi Park, Hakodate, Hokkaido

Earth Celebration

August 26-28, Ogi, Sado Island with Kodo.

Earth Celebration on Sado Island.

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

An Encounter with Walking Doctor Duke Saraie - Pounding the Pavements of Akasaka


Duke Saraie in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Duke Saraie, the "Walking Doctor," in Akasaka, Tokyo.
Walking though Tokyo's Akasaka district the other day with my trusty camera in hand, I found myself waiting at a pedestrian crossing alongside a glamorous looking couple who I asked if I could take their photo.

The man, in his late fifties or early sixties, jovial, wearing a beanie, quite heavily bejeweled, and, all in all, something of a character, instantly agreed. The woman with him was a bit more reticent, and when I tried to persuade her he told me she was "his manager" - so of course I desisted, thinking he meant it was below her.

I took a couple of shots of the old guy posing, and then chatted a little for the minute we had before the lights changed. His name was Duke Saraie, and he said he was famous - at least up until a few years ago - for "walking", which he demonstrated for me for a moment or two by holding his arms up straight, hands together, in a sort of catwalk pose. (Thus the pose for the photo without his manager, who no doubt would have stolen some thunder.)

I repeated his name back to him to confirm, we shook hands and said goodbye. Looking him up online, I discovered that this was indeed the famous "Walking Doctor" Duke Saraie, who was the star of a long-running mini-series on Kansai TV (Kansai Telecasting Corporation) called "Bi (pronounced "bee") Walk: A Gift from Duke Saraie" which ran from 2003 to 2008.

Each episode was just six minutes long and ran every Monday just before 10 pm. In it, random people would hunt for a box which contained an invitation to go to Duke Saraie's house, where he would advise the lucky winner on how to improve her (occasionally, his) walking style.

The good Walking Doctor's technique is apparently based on a multitude of arts and disciplines including qigong, sports medicine, martial arts, yoga, ballet, Pilates and breathing exercises. He is said to have developed it working with fashion models for whom good walking is key to success in what they do. He then broadened the scope of his walking regime to include everyone, and has promoted "proper" walking ever since as a panacea.

He is famous enough for most of my Japanese colleagues to know of him.

Duke Saraie was born in Wakayama prefecture in 1954, went to university in Osaka, and, according to the Japanese Wikipedia article on him, lived in Monaco from 2002, dividing his time between there and Japan. He has a wife, who styles herself "Madame Saraie," and two daughters.

He has received awards from the Japan Culture Promotion Association. from his native Wakayama Prefecture, and a Ph.D. from the The International Academy of Education University.

Last, but not least, the Duke apparently boasts a BMI of 22.3 - not bad for a 62-year-old.

Check out Duke Saraie's website (Japanese only)

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