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Friday, July 31, 2009

Nagoya Subway Worker

Subway worker, Nagoya名古屋地下鉄の元気な女性駅員

Japanese public employees are nothing if not helpful.

While in Nagoya, a wonderful subway attendant made our visit pleasant.

We were attempting to buy a subway day pass but, as is often the case, were struggling.

After ringing the "Help" buzzer, a young, efficient woman peeked out and asked us what she could do for us.

She took us to the window, helped us buy the tickets, and then escorted us to the gate.

When asked for a picture, she adjusted her hat and posed with a salute and smile.

What is really amazing is that, in spite of this level of service, she is not that unusual - which also makes trips back to the US a bit of a reverse culture shock.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blood Type and Personality

血液型と性格

Blood type is a big deal in Japan. Everyone knows her/his blood type, and moreover everyone knows what each blood type signifies in terms of personality.

Below are some of the attributes often given by Japanese to each of the blood types.

Type A(A型、A-gata)

几帳面(きちょうめん、kichomen)= methodical
常識人(じょうしきじん、joshikijin)= having common sense
協調性(きょうちょうせい、kyochosei)= cooperative
慎重(しんちょう、shincho)= very careful

Type B(B型、B-gata)

自己中心的(じこちゅうしんてき、jiko chushinteki)= selfish
楽天的(らくてんてき、rakutenteki)= easy going
柔軟な考え(じゅうなんなかんがえ、junan na kangae)= flexible
閃き(ひらめき、hirameki)= inspirational, creative

Type O (O型、O-gata)

親分肌(おやぶんはだ、oyabun hada)= having leadership qualities
社交的(しゃこうてき、shakoteki)= sociable
お雑破(おざっぱ、ozappa)= careless about details (a big picture person)
現実的(げんじつてき、genjitsuteki)= realistic

Type AB(AB型、AB-gata)

合理的(ごうりてき、goriteki)= practical
理想追求型(りそうついきゅうがた、riso tsuikyu gata)= idealist
冷静(れしせい、reisei)= calm
二重人格(にじゅうじんかく、niju jinkaku)= split personality

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dragonfly - Kyoto

Kyoto Dragonfly蜻蛉

In mid-summer, the dragonflies swirl and dive and occasionally alight on something.

After several attempts, I finally got a photo of him (?) as he rested on a tomato stake in a nearby garden.

The "tonbo" (dragonfly, in Japanese) was flying between a small river - a canal, actually - and this small garden in Kyoto.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Laforet Harajuku: a bulging treasure chest

ラフォレー原宿 おっぱい


Laforet Harajuku.

Laforet Harajuku is a landmark department store cum museum in Tokyo's Harajuku district: a beacon of youth fashion. Laforet also has a museum in Tokyo's Roppongi district.

The store is located very near the Jingu-mae intersection with Omotesando Street, and is distinctive for the constant changes it undergoes in outward appearance.

Last week was Laforet's Grand Bazaar, a summer sale that the store is famous for. However, this year the Grand Bazaar was seriously pumped up with a generous few extra pounds per cubic inch of hot sex appeal.

Balloon breasts, Laforet Harajuku.

Huge red balloons in place of massive breasts bulged in way-more-than-lifesize glamor over the whole Jingu-mae area, perhaps symbolizing not only the bounty to be had at the Bazaar, but the mortal danger of your sweetest dreams disappearing with a bang in hot summer air if you didn't get your ass down there fast.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Akihiro Ota New Komeito

太田昭宏

Akihiro Ota is the leader of the New Komeito Party, the junior coalition partner of Prime Minister Taro Aso and the LDP in the Lower House of the Japanese Diet.

Akihiro Ota New Komeito

Born in 1945 in Aichi Prefecture near Toyohashi, Hatoyama is a graduate of Kyoto University and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 after an unsuccessful attempt in 1990. On his personal website Ota lists Mahatma Gandhi and Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899) as his political heroes and reading, sports and ceramic art as his hobbies.

The New Komeito Party ("New Clean Government Party" or NKP) is backed by the rather murky Soka Gakkai Buddhist organization and can count on the huge voter base of Soka Gakkai members, somewhere in the region of 10 million followers in Japan.

Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist movement, is based on earlier Nichiren Buddhism and came into being in the 1930s. The movement's leader is Daisuke Ikeda and attracts adherents overseas.

Komeito's policies in its manifesto include support for the elimination of nuclear weapons, trimming the bloated Japanese bureaucracy and devolving more powers to the regions. However, Komeito's main political aim is self-preservation and to remain in power itself and the party may well jump ship and seek to form a coalition with the DPJ if Yukio Hatoyama and his party wins the upcoming general election.


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Nagoya Friends Whitewater Rafting! August 23rd, 2009


Adventure Spirit Nagoya Friends

present


4th White Water Rafting - Nagara River one day trip

August 23rd, 2009 (SUNDAY)

Central Japan’s Premier Rafting River.

Nagoya Friends proudly presents our 4th Nagara River Rafting trip. For 12,000 yen (tax included in price) you get a full day of white water rafting, a delicious lunch and admission to the onsen at the end of the trip. A thrilling ride not to be missed! Rafting will be held on Sun. August 23rd

Experience the adventure, raft the exciting rapids of the natural Nagara River, relax in the calm pools and beautiful scenic mountain environment. Enjoy the outdoor challenge, feel alive!

WHAT ADVENTURE SPIRIT WILL SUPPLY

1. 4 x 8 person inflatable rafts and paddles.

2. Helmets, Life jackets, spray jackets and thermal tops for each member.

3. Professional Instruction from experienced Rafting Guides.

4. Insurance.

5. A delicious lunch

6. Onsen Admission ticket

7. A drink (500ml pet) to be carried down river with us.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING

1. Swimsuit, sunscreen, shorts, sports sandals or wetsuit-boots or sneakers.

2. Full set of dry clothes and extra shoes.

3. Onsen towel and bathroom set.

4. Adventurous spirit!

PRICE

Raft, paddles, safety equipment, insurance and instruction is 12,000 yen per person for a full day rafting.

Minimum 5 customers. Maximum total 28 customers.

Cancellation Fees.

2 weeks before 0%

14-8 days before 30%

7-2 days before 50%

The day before 80%

On the day 100%

TRANSPORTATION

**All customers are reponsible for their own transport to the rafting site. I will be able to mee a few people at Gifu station and take them up to the location, but you will need to assist with gas/highway tolls if you need a ride.**

MEETING TIME AND PLACE

8:30 am Gifu-ken, Minami-mura, Daily Yamazaki store. Right by Minami IC Interchange (Turn left off the Tokai-Hokuriku do on Route 156)

PLAN

8:30 am Meet and welcome at the Minami village Daily Yamazaki Store.

9:15 Issue personal paddling gear.

9:30 Drive to the Nagara river rafting start point.

10:00 Start rafting: complete the morning safety training.

10:30 Enjoy rafting the exciting, refreshing rapids of the Nagara river.

12:00 Relax at a nice beach and eat lunch.

1:00 Raft the bigger rapids of the afternoon section.

3:00 Arrive at the finish point -Kodakara Onsen.

3:30 Relax in the hot spring. (onsen admission fee included)

5:00 Drive back home.

THIS EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE RAIN OR SHINE

CONTACTS

Adventure Spirit E-mail: info@adventurespiritjp.com

Fax: 05 8686 2323

Chris090 9949-3495 English/Japanese

Sam: 080-5469-6317 English

Yuka:080-3648-1666 English/Japanese

Adventure Spirit & Nagoya Friends



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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Japan News This Week: 26 July 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.Why Japan’s Cellphones Haven’t Gone Global

New York Times

Japan: Towns face extinction as young people desert roots and head for cities

Guardian

Exclusive interview with David Peace

Times on Line

La Chambre basse japonaise dissoute en prévision des législatives

Le Monde

Moscow finds gulag records on 760,000 Japanese POWs

Japan Times

In Tokyo, a High-Pitched Whine Repels Teens, Attracts TV Crews

Washington Post

Robot struts stuff on the catwalk

BBC

Japanese professor creates baseball-playing robots

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

In 2008, the Japanese media ranked 29th in press freedom, just behind Australia. Iceland, Luxembourg, and Norway tied for first place (most free).

The US came in 36th, the UK 23rd.

Eritrea was the most repressive country on earth towards its media, at 173rd dead last and one spot behind North Korea.

Source: Reporters Without Borders

45% of Japanese recently polled have read Haruki Murakami. Of those, 51% "liked" his writing.

A breakdown of the reasons for not liking Murakami were "Other" (28%), "I was disgusted by Norwegian Wood" (24%), "his stories are difficult to understand" (23%), "too popular" (7%), etc.

For those who do like Murakami, the following reasons were given: "many metaphorical sentences" (22%), "fantastic, magical stories" (22%).

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Japan's Open Future

Japan's Open Future: An Agenda for Global Citizenship

by John Haffner, Tomas Casas i Klett, Jean-Pierre Lehmann

Published by Anthem Press

ISBN: 1-8433-1311-1320 pp

The authors, a Canadian, a Spaniard, and a Frenchman, have written a book that falls squarely into the genre of books that explain "what is wrong with Japan and how it can be fixed," and is one of the better books of the genre.
Maybe because of their combined years of experience in Japan the book has a bit more depth than many of its type. The essence of the authors' argument is that while Japan made a remarkable and swift transition from a Pre-Modern to a Modern society, it has failed to make the jump to a Post Modern society, and still clings to the mercantilism that enabled its economy to grow and prosper, but which is no longer suitable for the modern world of globalism.

Japan's Open Future

The introduction is excellent and gives a brief history of Japan without resorting to any of the myths that color much of other writings on Japan. The brief section on Japan's imperialist expansion and World War II manages to cover all the details that continue to haunt Japan and influence its relations with other countries.
The chapter on global communication covers Japan's poor performance with foreign languages, particularly English, but also has some interesting insights on communication issues within Japan. Many of the examples given come from the world of business, and this emphasis on business and economics continues throughout the book, with the next two chapters focusing on the Japanese economy.
Written in a way that makes the subjects understandable to a layman, one still needs an interest in the topics to stop the chapters from becoming hard going. The chapters on Japan's civil society and Japan's global roles cover most of the issues where Japan clings to exceptionalism. Throughout the book the authors point out that were Japan to open itself more (globalism in not so many words) the people of Japan would benefit greatly, however they barely touch upon any negative results of globalization.
In the conclusion they make an interesting suggestion that China's growing economic penetration of Japan may lead to the forced opening of Japan on a par with Perry’s black ships.

Book Review by Jake Davies

Buy this book from Amazon USA UK Japan

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Nagoya Sumo Tournament

相撲名古屋場所

We visited the Nagoya sumo tournament last Sunday which was an unforgettable day out.

Sunday was the day before the Ocean Day public holiday and the packed house at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium was really up for the sumo.



There were wins for the home town favorite Kotomitsuki, popular Bulgarian ozeki Kotooshu (aka Kaloyan Mahlyanov) and veteran Kaio. The defeat of controversial Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu to Kisenosato in the day's final bout really brought the house down, as the zabuton (cushions) began to fly in a traditional sign of the crowd's pleasure.

Nagoya Sumo Tournament

The Nagoya sumo tournament is held at the 7,000 capacity Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (052 962 9300) near Nagoya Castle.

The nearest subway station is Shiyakusho on the Meijo Line of Nagoya subway (Exit 7). For a four-seat berth with good views, tickets begin at 3,200 yen up to 45, 200 for ringside seats. Visitors receive an English or Japanese schedule of the day's contests. A box lunch or bento with green tea costs 2,200 yen. Beer and refreshments are available. Sumo goods are available at stalls or the information office.

Ticket reservations 052 290 0001

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Language of Politics

政治用語

The big news in Tokyo this week, indeed, across the whole of Japan, was the sound defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party in the local Tokyo assembly elections. The LDP was reduced to 38 seats out of 127, compared to the Democratic Party of Japan’s increase to 54 seats.

This has had an impact on the central government, in that the very unpopular Prime Minister, Taro Aso, has finally decided to quit trying to hold on to power, and will comply with the growing calls for a new election.

LDP poster, close up.

At base is the issue of authority, 権力. A Japanese person once said to me, 日本人はなんでも権力 (Nihonjin wa nandemo kenryoku), or “For the Japanese, authority is everything.”

Vying for authority, i.e., politics, is known as 政治 (seiji), the first character meaning “govern” and the second “rule” or, interestingly, “heal." A person who practices politics, or politician, is known as a 政治家 (seijika), the “ka” (pronounced “ie” when it appears alone) literally meaning “house.” (However, this use of “house” for “person” is well-established and seen in other terms such as 音楽家 (ongakka, musician).

Being a country based on 民主主義 (minshushugi, or democracy), authority is determined by 選挙 (senkyo, election). The first character means “to choose” and the second “to take action.” A vote is a 投票 (toh-hyo), the first character meaning “throw” and the second meaning “slip of paper.”

House of representatives, or parliament, is 国会 (kokkai) literally meaning “national meeting,” and the actual building the 国会議事堂 (kokkai giji doh) or literally “national meeting proceedings house.” A seat in parliament is known as a 議席 (giseki).

Political campaigning is huge, and very in your face, in Japan, taking place at the very visible AND AUDIBLE local level. 選挙運動はめちゃくちゃうるさい (Senkyo undo wa mecha kucha urusai), or “Political campaigning is off-the-wall noisy.”

But it’s all worth it in the end if you need something done. Behind the scenes, Japanese politics is all about 口利き (kuchi-kiki), literally “a mouth that really works.” 口利き政治 (kuchikiki seiji) means “the politics of influence peddling,” "of interceding on behalf of a bidder,” “of acting as an intermediary,” or “of providing one’s good offices.” 利くよ! (kiku yo!) “It really works!”


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fuji Rock Festival 2009

フジロックフェスティバル'09

The line up for this year's Fuji Rock Festival July 23-26th includes Oasis, Paul Weller, Patti Smith, Weezer, Public Enemy, Franz Ferdinand, and many more.

This year's theme is 'global warming/natural energy', 'biodiversity' and 'human rights.'



Tickets are 39,800 for the three days or 16,800 for one day. A one-day car park pass is 3,000 yen as is a camp site ticket on Naeba Ski Resort. Bicycles and motor bikes are free to park. Naeba Onsen hot spring can be used for a fee.

Access

JR Echigo Yuzawa Station is the nearest shinkansen station (90 mins from Tokyo Station)
A free shuttle bus service runs for all ticket holders between the station and the festival site.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yukio Hatoyama DPJ

鳩山由紀夫

Is this man the next Prime Minister of Japan? Will Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), defeat the hapless and gaff-prone Taro Aso in the upcoming general election? What kind of man is he?


Yukio Hatoyama


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

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

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

Hatoyama is considered to be the richest man in the Japanese Diet (Parliament) with an estimated 1.65 billion yen in personal assets, four times those of Aso. These figures exclude more billions tied up in Bridgestone shares - Yukio's father married into the family of the Bridgestone tire empire - the world's largest tire manufacturer.

Hatoyama entered politics as an LDP member of the Lower House in 1986, leaving the LDP in 1993 to form the short-lived New Party Sakigake, before setting up the DJP with Naoto Kan and his brother Kunio.

A social conservative, Hatoyama's stated policy initiatives include allowing women to ascend to the imperial throne and amending the constitution to redefine the Japanese Defence Forces (SDF) as the country's army.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

World Cosplay Summit

世界コスプレサミット

The World Cosplay Summit will be held next month at Oasis 21 in Sakae, Nagoya on the 2nd of August. A parade of contestants takes place the day before in Osu Kannon on August 1.

Cosplay

Sponsored by TV Asahi the international Cosplay competition has been held in Nagoya since 2005 and is now supported by various Japanese government agencies.

Contestants come from Brazil, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the USA as well as Japan. Brazil won the overall prize in 2008.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Japan This Week: 19 July 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.In Japan, Machines for Work and Play Are Idle

New York Times

Fad or crisis? Japan's 'marriage hunting' craze

Yahoo! News

Cellphone fiction: from touch-screen to silver screen

Guardian

Japan PM Taro Aso's allies set to demand he resign

Times on Line

Le drapeau nippon flotte sur le Tour

Le Monde

Ministry eyes end to statute on murder

Japan Times

Love Hotels beat the recession in the Japan

BBC

A Flash of Memory

New York Times

Ichiro remembers George Sisler so we can, too

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

Recorded child abuse cases hit an all time high in Japan in 2008. According to the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, there were 42,662 cases last year.

Tokyo had the highest number with 3,229.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

The amount of toilet paper used per day, by sex, was recently announced in the Asahi Shinbun.

Men: 1.72 meters

Women: 6.6 meters

Men tend to use less and less and they get older. In contrast, women use more and more, peaking in their 50s with a massive 12.71 meters/day.

Source: Japan Toilet Research Foundation.

In 2008, some 11,040 foreign students found jobs in Japan. 96.6% of those were Asian, with Chinese the number one group (7,651).

Source: Kyodo News

The number of porcine flu cases topped 3,000, according to the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry. Of those are five who were on a youth volleyball team that traveled to Thailand for a tournament.

Source: Kyodo News

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nagoya Immigration Office

名古屋入国管理局

Nagoya's Immigration Office has moved. The old office in Marunouchi has closed. The new purpose built Immigration Office is near Nagoya Port on the Aonami Line south from Nagoya Station.

Nagoya Immigration Office

Other things are different too. Gone are the grumpy old Japanese men in uniforms at reception, in are polyglot Filipinas. Reception on the first floor informed me in perfect English to go to the second floor to renew my re-entry permit.

Nagoya Immigration Office

Signs are in Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and English with a convenience store on the second floor where you can pay your "gaijin tax" - the 3,000 or 6,000 yen for a single or multiple re-entry permit that is placed in your passport and is valid for three years, if you have permanent residency, a spouse or work visa.

Nagoya Immigration Office

Renewing a re-entry permit should take no more than 15 minutes.

Nagoya Immigration Office
Nagoya City
Minato-ku
Shoho-cho 5-18
455-0075
Tel: (0570) 013 904
Google map of Nagoya Immigration Office

1 minute walk from Nagoya Keibajo-mae Station on the Aonami Line from Nagoya Station or take a bus from Tokai Dori on the Meiko Nagoya Subway Line to Nagoya Keiba-jo mae.


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Kirin Free Zero Alcohol Beer

キリンフリー

Japan's second biggest beer maker Kirin has been having success this summer with a new product that claims to be the world's first totally alcohol-free beer - Free. Sales of Free are predicted to increase to 1.6 million cases this year -way above initial expectations.


Kirin Free Zero Alcohol Beer

Free is advertised as 0.00 % alcohol and seems to be a hit with truck drivers, pregnant women and even hospital patients, according to an article in the Japan Times.

Kirin's Free is low on calories (only 14) and price (just 147 yen) in my local convenience store.

As interest has seemingly waned in cheaper alternatives to beer called happoshu ("sparkling liquor"), that bears a passing resemblance to real beer and due to Japanese tax laws retails for considerably less, Kirin sought a product that would appeal to beer drinkers who still wanted to drive. More stringent penalties have recently been introduced for drunken driving in Japan including fines for passengers for riding with a driver over the limit.
Free's zero alcohol is produced by omitting the usual yeast fermentation process plus some still-secret new technology. Well, how does it rate?
Open a can and it smells like beer - slightly flat beer - and it's first taste is a bit like shandy (a beer and lemonade mix). Finish the can and well, it rather underwhelms with a slightly chemical after-taste. Like real beer, though, it does make you burp.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer in Kyoto

Kyoto woman in yukata robe浴衣姿の京美人

Ah, summer(夏だ、natsu da)!

Cold beer(冷たいビール、tsumetai biiru), hand held paper fans(扇子、sensu), and women in light cotton robes (浴衣、yukata).

In mid-July, at Kyoto's annual Yoiyama Festival (宵山)- held on three successive nights prior to Gion Festival (祇園祭り), which is always on the 17th - women and men throw on their cotton (綿、men)robes and head downtown.

The streets are closed to cars from 6 pm until midnight. This in Japanese becomes "Pedestrian Paradise" (歩行天国、hoko tengoku). Hundreds of thousands of people from Kyoto and surrounding areas pour into the city for a giant street party.

Everyone strolls with a beer in hand. There is much to see, from the great floats(鉾、hoko)that will be pulled around central Kyoto, to the many beautiful women and men and children in their colorful (華やか、hanayaka)robes.

Tonight is the final night of Yoiyama, and Friday will be the main event of the Gion Festival.

By all means go! (是非行ってごらん!Zehi itte goran!)Or, in Kyoto dialect(京都弁、Kyoto ben): 是非行ってや zehi itte ya!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kyoto Kanze Kaikan - Noh Theater

Kyoto Noh Theater京都観世会館

Across the canal from the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, is the Kyoto Kanze Kaikan Noh Theater.

Noh is one of best known types of classic Japanese musical stage performance, and has has been performed since the 14th century.

Most of the characters wear white masks, and the dramas are usually based on Japanese historical plays.

It is similar to Kabuki, but perhaps not as dramatic.

For those not devotees of this art form, a wonderful way to experience it is at outdoor performances that are periodically held at temples and shrines such as Heian Jingu.

If you do go to a performance at this theater, or any of the other small venues in Kyoto, it will be long.

The plays are done in acts, interspersed with Kyogen, which is a form of comedy.

Directions

From JR/Kintetsu Kyoto Station (Kyoto-eki-mae boarding area A1); Kyoto City Bus No. 5 (toward Iwakura Soshajo). Get off at Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae. From Hankyu Karasuma Station/Kawaramachi Station or Keihan Sanjo Station Kyoto City Bus No. 5 (toward Iwakura Soshajo). Get off at Kyoto Kaikan Bijutsukan-mae. Or a five-minute walk from the Higashiyama Station on the Tozai subway line.

Tel: 075 771 6114

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nagoya Friends - Party at Red Rock! 7/18 (Sat.)

Nagoya Friends 72nd party in Nagoya!
at

  • Date: Saturday July 18th, 2009
  • Time: 18:30 - 21:00
  • Drinks will be served between 6:30pm-8:50pm.
  • Place: The Red Rock (2F Aster Plaza Building,
    4-14-6 Sakae, Nagoya (very close to Sakae Station)
  • Fee: 3000 Yen
  • Dress code: Anything (Casual, etc)
  • Reservations: Not necessary but recommended and appreciated. Just show up to the party!
  • Over 25,000 Yen worth of exciting prize giveaways each month!

There will be free food along with free drinks (beers, wine, cocktail drinks and juices).
Our party is not a dinner party, but we will have light food & snacks.
Quantities are limited, so please come early! Please free to come alone or bring your friends.
EVERYBODY is welcome to join regardless of nationality/gender. Reservation is greatly appreciated.
About 125-150+ people are expected to attend. Approximately 55% female and 45% male, 70% Japanese and 30% non-Japanese.
Pictures from previous Nagoya Friends Parties.

Map & Directions

Contact: 080-3648-1666(Japanese) 080-5469-6317(English)

Get off at Sakae Station [Exit #13]

Red Rock Nagoya

The Red Rock (2F Aster Plaza Building,
4-14-6 Sakae, Nagoya (very close to Sakae Station)

The Red Rock is located behind the Chunichi Building in the Sakae business/shopping district.

Subway access from Sakae Station (serving the yellow and purple lines) Exit 13. It’s a big station connected to a huge underground shopping mall so you’ll need to do a little underground walking.

We’re also just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Tokyu and Precede hotels, and a 10 minute walk up Hirokoji Street from the Hilton Hotel in Fushimi.

Train Directions
  • From Nagoya Stn. take the Higashiyama Subway line to Sakae Station (GET OFF at Sakae Station!!) Take exit #13 and then walk straight AWAY from Hirokoji-Dori for about 3/4 of a block. TURN LEFT Red Rock is on the right side of the street in the middle of the block. Look for the sign on the sidewalk.

Sakae Station
Higashiyama Line


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LDP - just gimme one more chance

自民党 改革断行演説会

LDP poster, close up.

Cycling through Tokyo’s Suginami ward yesterday, I discovered this over-the-top poster of three Liberal Democratic Party politicians looking like they’ve come down with 1970s disco night fever. It is advertising the public meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) “Ceaseless Reform Speeches” at the headquarters of the Party from noon, September 10, 2009.

It comes at a time when the LDP, led by the abysmally unpopular Taro Aso, is struggling to maintain its traditional hold on power in Japan. Sunday, July 12, was the day for the election of members to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and is being seen as an important indicator of how the LDP is doing nationwide.

This poster features the three speakers (from left)
-Katsuei Hirasawa, a policitian who graduated from Duke University in the US, has close connections with security/police and diplomatic circles, and who in 2007 helped found the LDP sub-committee for the Korean peninsula issue, aiming to normalize relations with North Korea. Having begun his working life in television, he is (apparently) skilled in handling the media (not that it shows here!), and has written several books.

LDP poster, Tokyo.

Nobuteru Ishihara, the eldest son of the reactionary Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara. He is presently at the center of the controversy surrounding the ShinGinko Tokyo Bank, founded upon his initiative in 2005 with 100 billion yen of the metropolitan government's money, and which, due to allegedly sloppy practices, is now 101.6 billion yen in the red. When criticized for using his political clout to influence the fortunes of the bank, his father came to his rescue saying that “using political clout is a politician’s job”!

Ichiro Kamoshita is originally a Ph.D. in medicine, who joined the LDP in 1997 after being with the Japan New Party. It was reported in the Japan Communist Party’s organ, Akahata (“Red Flag”), in September 2003 that he received political donations from the National Financial Political Association (the lobbying organ of the loan-shark industry).

The title of the poster is “Building Japan’s tomorrow!,” but in the context of the LDP’s present fortunes, those John Travolta poses, rather than (I presume) pointing a digit in the direction of the new day, look more like they’re counting how many chances remain for them: one.


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Japan Visitor July Newsletter

ジャパンニュースレター

Subscribe to the Japan newsletter to receive all the latest news on our free Japan gifts, special offers and new competitions.

Take a look at July's Japan Visitor newsletter to see what you will receive in your mailbox.

Japan Visitor July Newsletter

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Taro Aso Calls August Election

麻生太郎

Taro Aso, Japanese PMTaro Aso, the hapless and gaff-prone Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Prime Minister has called a snap election for August 30 following his party's resounding defeat in local Tokyo elections on Sunday.

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 54 seats to the LDP's 34.

Aso is the 4th Prime Minister since the last general election in 2005 following Junichiro Koizumi, Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda.

The choice awaiting the Japanese electorate in August is between two conservative parties with similar agendas and backgrounds. One political commentator has likened Aso and his opponent, DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, to "Tweedledee and Tweedledum."

Both are aged, wealthy scions of political dynasties, but with Aso's popularity ratings hovering around the 20% mark, it seems the Japanese public are ready to to give Tweedledum a chance this time around.

Yukio Hatoyama replaced Ichiro Ozawa as leader of the DPJ earlier this year, after the latter became embroiled in a financing scandal.

Hatoyama, like Aso, is a super-rich, blue-blooded, hereditary politician and likewise a grandson of a former conservative party prime minister.

A graduate of Tokyo University, Hatoyama's grandfather Ichiro Hatoyama was a hawkish prime minister in the 1950s, Hatoyama's father Iichiro Hatoyama was Japan's foreign minister for a period in the 1970s. His brother Kunio Hatoyama is a leading LDP politician. Plus ça change.


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Japan This Week: 12 July 2009

今週の日本

Japan News.Mound Provides Painful Challenge to Japanese Pitcher

New York Times

Inside His Exteriors

New York Times

Fuji cancellation threatens future of Formula One in Japan

Guardian

Japan to defy US with another bout of intervention

Times on Line

Details released on criteria to let illegal aliens stay

Japan Times

Le hit des mauvais vacanciers

Libération

'Rude' French are worst tourists [Japanese best]

BBC

Smile please! Japan's Rail Police

BBC

Full Frame: Walking through fire, literally

Global Post

World Cup qualifiers Japan seek Dutch courage

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news


Japan Statistics

2,217,000 million foreigners were registered in Japan at the end of 2008. That is an increase of 50% in the last decade.

Chinese took the top spot with 655,000 residents (30%). Koreans came in second with 589,000. Brazilians totaled 313,000, Filipinos 211,000, and Peruvians 60,000.

Source: Kyodo News


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hydrangea - Ajisai

アジサイ 紫陽花

The quintessential rainy season flower in Japan is the hydrangea - ajisai in Japanese.

Hydrangea - Ajisai

Appearing in gardens and temples throughout Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, the hydrangea is at its best in mid-June. The stems should be trimmed in the fall to ensure strong growth.

Hydrangea - Ajisai

A number of temple and shrine gardens are well-known for their hydrangeas including Meigetsu-in in Kamakura, Fujimori Jinja Shrine in Fushimi in Kyoto and Tofukuji also in south east Kyoto.

The hydrangea is native to south and east Asia (China, Korea, Japan, the Himalaya region and Indonesia) as well as North and South America. There are over 70 species. The leaves are toxic if eaten and there have been a number of cases of Japanese restaurants serving the leaves as a garnish and unwittingly poisoning their customers!


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Friday, July 10, 2009

Falun Gong in Tokyo

法輪功



Walking through Tokyo’s Sumida ward last weekend, I happened upon a brass band parade livening up the gray, rain-soaked streets. I changed course and followed it out of curiosity, and soon discovered that it was a demonstration by the Falun Gong, a religious group famous for being outlawed in China.

The group uses the transliteration “Falun Dafa” rather than Falun Gong – a title that appeared on their banners and the backs of their jackets: “Falun Dafa is Good: Truthfulness, Forbearance, Benevolence.”

I was approached by a member of the group who talked with me at length as we followed the parade, and supplied me with some of the group’s literature.

According to the Falun Dafa, their members are subject not only to simple brutality, but are targeted as unwilling suppliers of body parts to others in need of them and who can afford to pay for them. As such, the body parts are allegedly removed while the victim is still alive to ensure their efficacy for the recipient.

Gruesome posters carried by the marchers were displayed as witness to the alleged acts of persecution.

Whether such alleged practices are the result of Chinese government policy or not, I don’t know. The recent Sanlu milk powder scandal suggests that much of what happens in China happens at the local level and is either ignored by the central government or invisible to it. (Due to local official corruption and connivance, it took a formal diplomatic approach by the New Zealand government to the highest echelons of the Chinese government to get the Sanlu milk powder affair recognized and resolved.)

Whatever the economics and politics behind the problems allegedly faced by the Falun Dafa, they are real enough to their Japanese counterparts to put their all into exposing it.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

shugi - ism

主義

shugi.


shugi is an affix in Japanese that crops up all the time. Used at the end of various words, it corresponds to "ism."

The 主 (shu) literally means "main, principal, ruling" and the 義 (gi) is a meaning "cloud" that covers everything from "justice" to "humanity" to "integrity" to "chivalry" to "honor" to "morality" to "significance."
So, put them together, and you have something like "main/ruling object of worthiness/devotion/significance," or, in other words, "doctrine," "principle," "ticket." Conveniently, just as with the English "ism," you stick it on the end of the object of that "devotion."

For example:
資本主義 shihonshugi = capitalism
共産主義 kyosanshugi = communism
社会主義 shakaishugi = socialism
軍国主義 gunkokushugi = militarism
自由主義 jiyushugi = liberalism
保守主義 hoshushugi = conservatism
民族主義 minzokushugi = nationalism
愛国主義 aikokushugi = patriotism
平和主義 heiwashugi = pacifism
商業主義 shogyoshugi = commercialism
毛沢東主義 motakutoshugi = Maoism
帝国主義 teikokushugi = imperialism
個人主義 kojinshugi = individualism

There are times when it doesn't work quite as neatly; for example:
民主主義 minshushugi = democracy
but most of the time it does.

shugi can also be used alone, in the "doctrine, principle" sense. For example,

主義としてやるしかない。Shugi to shite, yaru shika nai. It has to be done [or, "I have to do it"] as a matter of principle.

主義に殉じる。Shugi ni junjiru. To die [sacrifice oneself] for a cause.

主義を支持する Shugi o shiji suru. To support [take up/stand for] a cause.

主義を曲げない Shugi o magenai. To fly one's colors/Nail one's colors to the mast.

So, even if you're not up to talking principles and politics in Japanese, at least, knowing "shugi," you will know roughly when to run - or at least keep your mouth shut!


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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Nagoya Hostess Bar

Bar Hostess, Nagoya名古屋のホステスバー

A recent business trip to Nagoya included Japanese-style night time entertainment. Work then play.

This ended, predictably enough, with the local accountant dragging us to a hostess bar.

In front of a multi-story building in Sakae were several women dressed in the Nagoya hostess uniform: slinky dress with a lot of shoulder and side flank exposed, or a kimono.

Up the elevator we went to the eighth floor. The accountant led us to the second door on the left and into Aun, a small hostess bar with about 10 customers.

The bar was fairly bright, and only a few hostesses were on duty.

Fortunately, the other men in the bar were either preoccupied with hostesses - or drunk - so they didn't notice or mind our karaoke singing.

Mama-san, pictured above right, ministered to many of our needs. She served watered down "drinks," sang for and with us, and kept the nut tray full.

After a few hours, we left considerably more sober than when we arrived.

The accountant coughed up, and we tottered off to our hotel.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Gion Festival Kyoto

祇園祭

Listen to the sound of Gion Matsuri

Kyoto's Gion Matsuri takes place throughout the month of July with something happening nearly every day.

Gion Matsuri began over a thousand years ago to placate Susano-o no Mikoto, the god of wind and water in an effort to halt a devasting plague that was sweeping the country. The gorgeous floats were traditionally maintained by merchant guilds (now neighborhood associations) who vied with each other to produce the most ostentatious show of kazari (decoration).

The main event and climax of the festival is the yamaboko junko, a procession of 32 giant, decorated floats (23 yama and 9 hoko) through the streets on July 17th. On the preceding evenings of July 14-16th, the floats are illuminated by lanterns and nearby houses display their family heirlooms. This part of the festival is known as Gion Bayashi with the evening of the July 16th (Yoiyama) the most significant, when thousands of people dressed in summer yukata take to the pedestrianized streets of downtown Kyoto to view the floats amid the constant festival music of flutes, drums and bells.

Gion Matsuri Kyoto


On July 10th, there is a welcoming ceremony for the floats (omukae chochin) when the festival lanterns are carried in a procession and later that evening in a festival known as mikoshi arai - the sacred palaquins are washed on Shijo Bridge.

After the main procession on July 17th which lasts from around 9am-1pm, three palaquins are taken from Gion's Yasaka Shrine at 6.30pm and brought to Shijo Otabisho just off Teramachi Street, south of Shijo Street. This is known as the shinko-sai.

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

On July 24th, hanagasa-junko is a procession of dancers including maiko (geisha) and children in traditional costume. This begins at 10pm and proceeds around the downtown area. At 5pm the three palaquins are returned to Yasaka Shrine from Teramachi in a tradition called kanko-sai.

Mikoshi-arai is the formal conclusion of the festival on July 28th and sees the floats cleaned again on Shijo Bridge before returning to Yasaka Shrine until next year.

On July 31th, a nagoshi-no-harai purification rite is held at Yasaka Shrine with visitors passing through an arch of sacred grasses. This ritual is usually performed at the end of June at other shrines around the country.


Images: Jake Davies

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Tanabata Festival 2009

Kyoto Tanabata Festival七夕祭り

Tanabata, or "the festival of the star Vega," is celebrated around Japan on the 7th day of the 7th month (though later in some rural parts of Japan).

The festival originated in China and is the celebration of the meeting of the stars Vega and Altair in the Milky Way for their annual lover's tryst. The festival is especially popular with young children.

There are larger Tanabata-themed festivals in Japan - Sendai's is the best known - but the festival is more of an occasion to be celebrated at home.

Wishes, written on colorful pieces of paper, are hung on bamboo. They are known as tanzaku in Japanese, and are usually about health, wealth, love, and the educational success of one 's children.

The bamboo pictured here with its many tanzaku is typical.

It was placed at a children's center in central Kyoto called Kodomo Mirai Kan.

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