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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Fukuoka Tower

The 234m-high New Fukuoka Tower, located in the Seaside Momochi area of Fukuoka, is the tallest seaside observation tower in Japan and a striking example of Fukuoka's modern architecture.

The New Fukuoka Tower was constructed in 1989 and designed by the Nikken Sekkei company, who were also responsible for the Kobe Port Tower.

New Fukuoka Tower Kyushu

Fukuoka Tower has a triangular cross-section and is coated in mirrored glass. Fukuoka Tower is illuminated at night. At 123 meters is an observation deck with superb 360-degree views out over Fukuoka.

Close-by are a number of shops and restaurants and the Robosquare with displays of contemporary robots inside the TNC-TV Bldg.

New Fukuoka Tower, Kyushu

Fukuoka Tower Inc.
2-3-26 Momochihama
Sawaraku
Fukuoka City
814-0001
Tel: (092) 823-0234
Admission: 800 yen for adults
Hours: April-Sept 9.30am-10pm; October-March 9.30am-9pm
Access: There are Nishitetsu buses (approx 45 mins from Fukuoka Airport; 25 mins from Tenjin Station, 30 mins from Hakata Station, and 10 minutes from Nishijin-Fukuoka Tower South entrance bus stop).
The nearest subway is Nishijin and then a 15-minute walk or short bus ride.
Map of Fukuoka Tower

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Monday, November 29, 2010

William Adams Grave Hirado

三浦按針

Those of us who are old enough to remember the classic, 1980 TV mini-series Shogun starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune will always have a soft spot for William Adams (1564-1620), the first Englishman to find himself in Japan.

William Adams Grave Hirado Kyushu


Adams' life was an unbelievable adventure story - shipwrecked off the coast of Japan on a Dutch ship the De Liefde, the Kent-born sailor, known in Japan as Miura Anjin ('Pilot'), was spared death and became a confidant of Tokugawa Ieyasu, advising the shogun on matters of navigation and ship-building.

Eventually Adams was granted the title of hatamoto - a samurai in direct service of the shogun - and granted lands and servants near present-day Yokosuka.

Adams moved to Hirado and was instrumental in setting up an English trading post on the island, though he quarreled with the English representative in Japan, John Saris, who disliked Adams for his adoption of a Japanese lifestyle and habits. Adams had taken a Japanese wife, with whom he had two children.


William Adams Grave Hirado

Adams passed away aged 55 on Hirado, a small island off the western coast of Kyushu, south of Fukuoka.

His grave, erected in 1954, is a short walk above the harbor and is a peaceful and evocative spot. A stone from the grave of his English wife was brought over from the UK to lie on Adams' tomb so the two could be reunited.

Another memorial stone at the site records the Englishmen who died in Japan during the 10 years of the English "factory" on Hirado.

Visitors on Hirado can also see Tabira Church, the English Factory established with the help of Adams and the Matsuura Historical Museum.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Japan News This Week 28 November 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.M.B.A.’s in Japan Struggle for Respect

New York Times

China's support of North Korea grounded in centuries of conflict

CNN

What makes good teaching?

BBC

North Korea’s ‘military first’ politics are behind recent attacks

Christian Science Monitor

Japan's justice minister resigns after gaffe

Guardian

Japan election sure to show opposition to US base

Washington Post

日本出口年增幅连续八个月放缓

Caijing

Cabinet can't stray during drills: Kan

Japan Times

Les conséquences du déplacement de l'activité manufacturière vers la Chine et les pays émergents

Le Monde

Japan’s World Cup bid for 2022 faces obstacles

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

The number of Chinese tourists to Japan declined for the first time in nine months. The number of visitors in October was 106,400, a 1.8% decline from the previous year.

Source: Kyodo News

"Have you ever been bullied?"

Yes: 44%
No: 56%

Of those who replied yes, the top types of bullying were:

1) ignored
2) said mean things to
3) physical

Source: Asahi Shinbun Poll

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shirotori Garden Nagoya

白鳥庭園

Shirotori Garden in Nagoya is close to Atsuta Shrine and the Nagoya Congress Center.


Shirotori Garden Nagoya

Opened in 1991, the 3.7ha Shirotori Tei-en is a modern Japanese garden representing the countryside of the surrounding areas of Nagoya city. The mound in the south-west corner of the garden represents Mt. Ontake, located on the borders of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures and  the second highest volcano in Japan at 3,067m. The stream running from the mound represents the Kiso River in Gifu.


Shirotori Garden Nagoya

The garden contains a traditional teahouse, Seiu-tei, built in the Sukiya style by carpenters from Kyoto. Other features of this beautiful, strolling garden include a perfect, turf lawn, traditional wooden bridges and a number of waterfalls.

There's a cafe for visitors to refresh themselves and contemplate a garden that seems a million miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Nagoya. Can you spot the toad/frog in the image below?


Shirotori Garden Nagoya Aichi

Shirotori Garden
Atsuta Nishi-machi 2-5
Atsuta-ku
Nagoya
Tel: 052 681 8928
Admission: 300 yen; Yearly pass 1,200 yen
Hours: 9am-4.30pm; closed Monday and the 3rd Wednesday of the month.
Access: Shirotori Garden is a 10 minute walk from Jingu-Nishi Station on the Meijo Line

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Akaike Station Nagoya

赤池

Akaike Station (lit. "Red Lake") is at the eastern end of the Tsurumai Line of the Nagoya subway before the line becomes the Meitetsu Toyota Line to Toyota city.


The area around the station includes the Oxport sports center and pool (now closed), a popular McDonalds, a Piago supermarket, a branch of the Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ bank, a post office, a florist, a convenience store, a pachinko parlor and a number of bars, cafes and izakaya.

Akaike Station

Akaike Station has full wheelchair access and a free motorbike and bicycle parking lot.

Buses from Akaike no longer run to Chubu International Airport but there are bus services to Toyota, Nagoya Shoka University, Yufukuji and Toyota Nishi High School.

Akaike Station is a short walk from the Nagoya City Tram and Subway Museum. The preceding station from the west is Hirabari and traveling east the next station is Nisshin.

A vast shopping mall, Akaike Hills is currently under construction close to the station.

Akaike Station Nagoya Aichi

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kohaku Uta Gassen Lineup 2010

Kohaku Uta Gassen紅白歌合戦

With just over a month remaining in 2010, Japanese eyes are beginning to turn towards the annual "Kohaku Uta Gassen" New Year's Eve television extravaganza.

Unlike the West, New Year's Eve in Japan is a fairly quiet night. Many families stay in and watch Kohaku, which literally means "Red White."

In short, the program is a singing "battle." The great and not so great, talented and not so talented from Japan's music world are divided into Red (female) and White (male) teams. A panel of almost as famous judges evaluates each act, and then just prior to the tolling of the temple bells to ring in the new year one team is declared the winner.

In recent years, the men have been very strong.

The list of guests on the NHK program was recently announced.

Here is the 2010 lineup:

Red Team

aiko
Angela Aki
Ikimono Gakari
Sayuri Ishikawa
Kane Uemura
AKB48
Miyuki Kawanaka
Kumi Koda
Natsuko Godai
Sachiko Kobayashi
Fuyumi Sakamoto
Yoshimi Tendo
DREAMS COME TRUE
Mitsuko Nakamura
Kana Nishino
Ayumi Hamasaki
Perfume
Ayaka Hirahara
Nana Mizuki
Kaori Mizumori
Akiko Wada

White Team

Arashi
Hiroshi Itsuki
HY
EXILE
NYC
Yuzo Kayama
Saburo Kitajima
Hiromi Go
Kobukuro
SMAP
TOKIO
Hideaki Tokunaga
AAA
Kiyoshi Hikawa
FUNKY MONKEY BABYS
Masaharu Fukuyama
flumpool
Takashi Hosokawa
Porno Graffiti
Shinichi Mori
Yusuke Yuzu
L'Arc en Ciel

The big surprise was the exclusion of Kenichi Mikawa, who is a man, pictured above.

On the women's side two stalwarts, Kyoto's Kumi Koda and veteran Akiko Wada, will attempt to defeat the men.

© JapanVisitor.com

Nagoya Dome

ナゴヤドーム

Nagoya Dome near Ozone in Nagoya is the home stadium of the Chunichi Dragons baseball team and also plays hosts to music concerts, conferences and trade fairs.

The Rolling Stones played here back in 2006. Other bands to have performed at Nagoya Dome include Aerosmith, Backstreet Boys, Steve Barakatt, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Fuel, Billy Joel, Luciano Pavarotti, Queen + Paul Rodgers, and Wayne Shorter.

Nagoya Dome

Nagoya Dome opened in 1997 and has a capacity of around 38,000 people. The dome is opposite a huge Aeon shopping mall and is a popular spot for joggers running around the stadium.


Nagoya Dome, Nagoya

Nagoya Dome is best accessed by subway to the Nagaoya Dome-mae Yada Station on the Meijo line or Ozone Station on the JR, Meitetsu and subway lines.

Nagoya Dome home to the Chunichi Dragons


Nagoya Dome
Tel: 052 719 2121

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robosquare Fukuoka

ロボスクエア

Robosquare inside the TNC TV Building in Fukuoka is a free museum showcasing Japan's prowess in the field of robotics.

Robosquare


On display are the robotic dog, Aibo, the cuddly cyborg seal, Paro and a number of other robots including Aimo, Robonova and RIDC.


Robosquare holds workshops and seminars for school childen to prepare for participation in Robocup Junior competitions and to promote the robotics industry in Fukuoka.

Robosquare
2F TNC-TV Bldg.,
2-3-2 Momochihama
Sawara-ku
Fukuoka
Tel: 092 821 4100
Hours: 9.30am-6pm; closed 2nd Wednesday of the month
Access: 15 minute walk from Exit 1 of Nishijin Station of the Fukuoka subway.
Robosquare Fukuoka Map

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Pooping or Peeing in Kyoto

No Pooping or Peeing in Kyotoペットの糞、小便させないでください

On the side of a traditional home in downtown Kyoto, the owner has a affixed a very "kawai" (cute) sign warning pet owners not to let their beloved pooches poo or pee on the wall.

Japan has been in the middle of a pet "boom" for more than a decade, and dog-lovers and those who are not as fond of them are sometimes at odds.

The biggest complaints about dogs are 1) "kinjo meiwaku" (causing a disturbance in the neighborhood, usually by barking and being nosiy), and 2) owners not scooping the poops.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Takachiho Yokagura

高千穂夜神楽

Takachiho Yokagura is performed nightly at Takachiho Shrine in Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Usually four dances are performed in the hourly show which begins at 8pm (500 yen).

The evening we attended we saw the Dance of Tajikarao, the Dance of Ameno-Uzume and the Totori Dance featuring Tajikarao. In the first dance Tajikarao listens for sounds of Amaterasu (the sun goddess) hiding in Amano-Iwato cave. In the second dance Ameno-Uzume performs an "unusual" (read "bawdy" according to the ancient texts) dance that makes the other gods laugh, thus making Amaterau curious enough to peek outside her cave. In the third dance, Tajikarao, known for his great strength, gathers his energy and removes the stone blocking the cave, thus restoring the sun to the universe.


The dance shown in the video (above) is the comic Goshintai Dance and shows Izanagi and Izanami, the god and goddess who created Japan according to Japanese mythology, as they make and drink sake. These two gods are known for their long and loving marriage before the tragedy of Izanami's death in child-birth. This dance is also known as the "Creation of Japan" dance.


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Japan News This Week 21 November 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan Pushing the Mob Out of Businesses

New York Times

How to boost corporate Japan: Stop speaking Japanese

CNN

China 'to resume rare earth exports to Japan'

BBC

Japan abandons bid to make China a key pillar of its foreign policy

Christian Science Monitor

Ady Gil and Japanese whaler both blamed for collision

Guardian

Ipads Ensure Tourists in Japan Not Lost in Translation: Video

Washington Post

日本大学毕业生就业内定率创新低

Caijing

Niigata halts plan to sell plot for consulate amid outcry

Japan Times

Hatsune Miku, la chanteuse à succès... qui n'existe pas

Liberation

Ultra-small is beautiful for Japanese homeowner

CNN

Japan’s Nishioka cleared to move to MLB

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Women who eat three bowls of rice or more daily have a 50% higher risk of becoming diabetic than those who eat just one bowl. That data comes from a study by the National Cancer Institute.

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

"Do you want to live abroad?"

Yes: 56%
No: 44%

Of those who replied yes, the top choices were:

1) Canada
2) Australia
3) USA
4) New Zealand
5) UK
6) Italy
7) Northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, etc.)
8) Western Europe (Holland, Switzerland, etc.
9) France
10) Spain

Source: Asahi Shinbun Poll

The number of Japanese students in the US declined 15% in the 2009-2010 academic year.

Japan ranked sixth in number of foreign students in the US, but its total dropped to 24,800.

With 128,000 students, China was the number one country.

Source: Kyodo News

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lions Mansion

ライオンズマンション

Lions Mansions can be seen throughout Japan and are up-market rental apartment blocks. The first Lions Mansion condominium was built in Akasaka in Tokyo in 1968. The brand is owned by the massive Daikyo Corporation, which has over 6,000 buildings throughout Japan.

Lions Mansion

Lions Mansions are built in faux red brick and have a statue of a lion outside the block.

Lions Mansions
Tel: 0120 117 406

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Myomanji Temple Kyoto

Myomanji Temple Kyoto妙満寺

North of Kitayama, and not far from Entsuji Temple, is the interesting Myomanji Temple.

Myomanji is part of the Nichiren sect and is a relatively new temple.

It is close to and has fabulous views of Mount Hiei.

One of the highlights is a concrete copy of the famed stupa at Bodh Gaya, India. This is where the historical Buddha gained Enlightenment.

Access

A five-minute walk from Kino station (Eiden Line). Twenty minutes on foot from the last stop--Kokusai Kaikan--on the Karasuma subway line.

91 Hataeda-cho, Iwakura, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto.
Tel: 075 791-7171

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Early Christmas in Tokyo

クリスマス・イン・東京

Christmas in Tokyo


It's mid-November, and already in Tokyo the Christmas decorations are going up. One of the biggest retail presences in Shinjuku shopping, the Odakyu department store, on the west side of Shinjuku station, has just put up its Christmas lights in the form of hundreds of colored squares covering the front of the building.

The brightly lit up area in front of Odakyu Department Store is the huge Shinjuku bus depot used by a number of bus companies.

Read more about Shinjuku.

© JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nagoya Friends at WINC Aichi 11/20 (THIS SAT!) 6:30-10pm



Nagoya Friends 98th party in Nagoya!

at

  • Date: Saturday November 20th, 2010
  • Time: 18:30 - 22:00 3.5 hours!!!
  • Drinks will be served between 6:30pm-9:00pm.
  • Place: WINC AICHI Building 5F 〒450-0002
    4 Cho-me 4-38 Meieki Nakamura-ku Nagoya
    (very close to Nagoya Station)
  • Fee: First 30 foreigners ¥2,000 ¥2,500 RESERVED ¥3,000 AT THE DOOR
  • Dress code: Anything (The building is nice so you can dress up a bit if you want, but not necessary)
  • Exciting Trivia Game with Prize Giveaways to the winning group! The trivia game will begin at 6:45 so come early if you want to play!!
  • Reservations: Not necessary but recommended and appreciated. Just show up to the party!

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 Nagoya Station [Exit #5 or #6]

WINC AICHI
〒450-0002
4 Cho-me 4-38 Meieki Nakamura-ku Nagoya
(very close to Nagoya Station)





Asakusabashi Station Tokyo

浅草橋駅

Asakusabashi Station Interior Tokyo


The Asakusabashi (literally "Shallow Grass Bridge") station building serves two lines: the JR Sobu line, between Akihabara Station to the west, and Ryogoku Station to the east, and the Asakusa subway line between Higashi-Nihonbashi and Kuramae stations.

The station is on the north-south-running Edo-dori Avenue that intersects Yasukuni-dori Avenue just a little to the south of the station.

The JR station is on the second story of the building. It has an east and west exit, and is open between 6am and 11.30pm every day.

The Asakusa subway line station is on the underground floor and is open from around 5 am to around midnight. It has six exits: A1 to A6.

Asakusabashi Station Tokyo

JR Asakusabashi Station began life in 1932, and the subway Asakusabashi Station in 1960.

The JR station and subway station serve about 50,000 passengers per day each, for a total of about 100,000.

The stations serve the surrounding Asakusabashi and Yanagibashi districts, well known for their numerous stores specializing in traditional Japanese dolls, as well as fireworks stores, fabric, trinket and clothing accessory stores, and even a specialty balloon store. There are several banks, convenience stores, Japanese fast food stores, a supermarket, restaurants, pachinko parlors around the station and under the elevated JR Sobu line. (NB The McDonald's still showing near the station on the Google Map has closed.)

Being in Tokyo's east end, the Asakusabashi area lacks sophistication as a shopping area, and, being small, relies for custom on residents, not visitors from other parts of Tokyo.

The only possible tourist attraction in this area is the tour boats moored in the Higashi-Kanda River, just south of the station, and that flows into the Sumida River, just east. However, most of these boats are for group hire, and are far more expensive than their size and condition warrant.

Asakusabashi Station Tokyo

Asakusabashi station is at 1-18-11 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo
The JR station telephone does not have a direct telephone line for customers, but lost and forgotten inquiries can be made to the JR Lost Property Office at 050-2016-1601.

Subway station tel: 03-3866-8765

Asakusabashi Station Google Map

View Tokyo Map Japan in a larger map

© JapanVisitor.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Takachiho Station

高千穂駅

The Takachiho to Nobeoka Line in Kyushu, southern Japan was closed in 2005 following the powerful typhoon Nabi and subsequent flooding which washed away two bridges along the route. No funds were available from central government for rebuilding and the company went into liquidation in 2009.

Takachiho Station, Takachiho, Kyushu

Now Takachiho Station runs only a few toy "torokko" trains a couple of kilometers down the line for tourists. The station remains open as a travel information and tribute center to the former glories of the picturesque railway, which linked the tourist town of Takachiho to Nobeoka and from there to Oita, Fukuoka (via Kokura) and the rest of the country.

Takachiho Station

The 50km-long Takachiho Railway was one of the most scenic railways in Japan before the disaster with 14 daily trains in each direction.

Takachiho Station, Kyushu

Takachiho Amaterasu Rail Park
Tel: 0982 72 3216

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Monday, November 15, 2010

APEC hits Tokyo traffic

APEC hits Tokyo traffic

The 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting took place in Yokohama on 13 and 14 November - just finishing last night. While attempts were being made to kick start the long-stalled Doha Development Round talks, and Prime Minister Kan reasserted the Japaneseness of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and President Obama was seeking freer trade with Asian countries, the police in Tokyo were taking no risks and restricting traffic around key areas of the meeting and the leaders' accommodation.

The result this weekend was unusually severe traffic congestion in certain parts of Tokyo, a fact that was carefully planned for and which announcements were made continually over Saturday and Sunday.

The above photo was taken on Edo-dori Avenue in Tokyo's Taito ward (one stop east of Akihabara). It says "APEC: until November 14, restrictions are in place on metropolitan freeways."

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Japan News this Week 14 November 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Return of the Samurai

New York Times

Japanese Runner Looks to Make Mark in New York

New York Times

Japanese Whirlwind Kagawa Propelling Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga

New York Times

Must Japan be eclipsed by China?

BBC

Japanese bra that talks and promotes sightseeing

CNN

Can a pop opera bring Japanese animation to life?
CNN

Japanese coast guard member admits to leaking collision video

CNN

The yakuza

Guardian

Peace Prize winners meet in Japan to abolish nukes

Washington Post

日本内阁会议通过“经济合作基本方针”

Caijing

Uniting APEC too tall an order for Kan?

Japan Times

Le Japon tétanisé par ses disputes avec la Chine et la Russie

Le Monde

Japanese draw Argentina in Copa America

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Beer consumption fell to a record low in October. Domestic shipments of beer-like budgets dropped 6.2% from the previous year, down to 35.63 million cases.

Source: Kyodo News

"Are you satisfied with your salary?"

Yes: 27%
No: 55%
Neither: 18%

Source: Asahi Shinbun Poll

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan

The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan

by Armand Vaquer

51 pages

Californian Armand Vaquer is a serious kaiju eiga (monster movie) fan, especially of the monster of monsters, Godzilla. He writes for various fan blogs on the subject, he travels to fan conventions, he has met up with Godzilla personnel all to the way up to the president of Toho Pictures, and he has traveled numerous times to Japan to visit the original Godzilla settings.

"Original settings" is a bit a tricky concept in this context, of course. Those Japanese landmarks had been recreated as scale models in the Toho Studios and were then destroyed by the giant monster. In real life, they still stand unscathed by any monster action and can easily be visited.

The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide to Japan


The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan is Vaquer's guide aimed at monster fans who also want to travel to Japan and see the sites where Godzilla went on his rampages.

The fanzine-style, self-published booklet starts out with a detailed description of the basics, from getting an American passport to the procedures at Narita Airport to the details of Japan Rail passes.
He then moves on to the actual cities Godzilla scenes took place in, starting with Sapporo in the north and going all the way down to Kagoshima in the south.

Tokyo has of course been most prominently featured in the movies, Yokohama, Nagoya and a few other cities have also had their share of space on the Godzilla screens. There, the most and best settings can be found and Vaquer lists a lot of them.

Vaquer's writing is at its best when he can actually relate a certain building or mountain to a certain scene in a specific movie. Unfortunately, Vaquer has always just come to Japan as a tourist on short trips. He rarely provides much detail. In most cases, he just tells the fans "This landmark was destroyed by Godzilla in XY movie" and already moves on to the next topic. But for hardcore kaiju fans who know the films by heart, this might be all they need to know.

In the case of cities that have only one or two sites connected with monster movie settings, Vaquer provides general information on what else is to see and do there. So, the reader can decide if the destination is worth a trip.

In short, if you are a real Godzilla fan and have always toyed around with the idea that someday you might go to Japan and see the home of the monster by yourself, this booklet is for you. It might help to get you started to actually realize that trip.

Distributed by Comix Press online:
Price: US$ 15 plus shipping

© Johannes Schönherr & JapanVisitor.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nishijin Kyoto

Nishijin西陣

Kyoto's Nishijin area is the city's traditional weaving section.

It has seen its fortunes wane because of the strength of the yen and lifestyle changes. Even in Kyoto, most women rarely wear kimono though yukata robes are making a bit of a comeback.

Much of the area - roughly north of Imadegawa, west of Horikawa - is defined by traditional buildings. And many weaving companies remain.

The alley pictured above right is one of the few remaining "roji" - a narrow cul-de-sac lined with wooden homes and shops.

Because of building codes, such alleys once they disappear will be gone for good. The primary reason is safety: fire trucks and equipment cannot get into the narrow alleys.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Japan Baseball Season 2010

野球

The 2010 Japanese baseball season ended last week with the Chiba Lotte Marines edging the Chunichi Dragons 4-2-1 in the Japan Series.

The Marines were led by series MVP Toshiaki Imae and rookie outfielder Ikuhiro Kiyota and won their first Japan Series title since 2005. They are also the first team to finish third in the league standings to reach and win the Japan Series.

The sixth game of the series ended in a 2-2 tie after 15 innings and at 5 hours and 43 minutes was the longest Japan Series game in history.

The Dragons were the Central League champion this season while the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks won the PL. The season also featured three players who surpassed 200 hits, which prior to this season had happened just three times in the history of Japanese baseball.

Leading the way was Hanshin Tigers outfielder Matt Murton who set a new single-season record with 214 hits, Chiba Lotte Marines shortstop finished with 206 and Norichika Aoki recorded 204 hits for his second career 200-hit season.

Hiroshima Carp pitcher Kenta Maeda won the pitching triple crown and edged Yu Darvish and others for the 2010 Sawamura Award, becoming the first CL pitcher to win the award since Chunichi's Kenshin Kawakami won in 2004.

Individual title winners in the major categories for hitters were:

Batting average: CL, Norichika Aoki (Tokyo Yakult Swallows) .358 PL Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Chiba Lotte Marines) .346

Home runs CL, Alex Ramirez (Yomiuri Giants) 49 PL Takehiro Okada (Orix Buffaloes) 33

RBIs CL Alex Ramirez 129 PL Eiichi Koyano (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters) 109

For pitchers the winners were: ERA: CL Kenta Maeda (Hiroshima Carp) 2.21 PL Yu Darvish (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 1.78

Wins CL Kenta Maeda 15 PL Chihiro Kaneko (Orix Buffaloes) Tsuyoshi Wada (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) 17

Strikeouts CL Kenta Maeda 174 PL Yu Darvish 222

© Jason Coskrey & JapanVisitor.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Itsukushima Shrine Kyoto

Itsukushima Shrine Kyoto厳島神社京都

Kyoto also has an Itsukushima Shrine. Unlike its namesake in Hiroshima, it is not a World Heritage Site; in contrast, it is barely known to even the biggest shrine afficionado in Kyoto.

That is because it is located deep in the hills of northern Kyoto, in Kumogahata.

The shrine's original name was Kumogahata Benzaiten (after the Buddhist god of wisdom and music), and first appeared in written records before the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912).

At the beginning of the Meiji Period, when religion was repressed the name changed to Itsukushima Shrine to avoid repression.

Today it is a small, rarely visited and beautiful place.

Access

Take the 37 bus from Demachiyanagi to Kumogahata Gakko Mae. About 45 minutes.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Suitengu Shrine

水天宮

Suitengu Shrine Tokyo


Suitengu Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tokyo famous for being where expectant mothers go to pray for the safe delivery of their child.

Suitengu Shrine Tokyo

Interestingly, this shrine’s roots are in Fukuoka prefecture, but it was moved to its present site in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi-kakigaracho district (in Chuo ward) in 1871. This followed a process known as bunrei, literally, “splitting of the spirit,” whereby the spirit worshiped at the original shrine was “split” for simultaneous worship at another shrine.

Suitengu Shrine

The god enshrined there, Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami, is not a god that was closely associated with daily life, but was more of a creator-type character, and for this reason worship of it was not usual until about 700 years ago.


Suitengu Shrine Tokyo



The present shrine building dates from 1967, and is on the upper of two stories, taking full advantage of the prime Tokyo land it occupies by housing commercial premises on the ground floor.

Suitengu Shrine Tokyo

It hosts numerous events throughout the year. The one pictured here is typical, with vendors selling food and amulets, and priests performing rituals over the mothers gathered there.


Suitengu Shrine Tokyo

Suitengu Shrine features some interesting statuary, from the ornate, fierce lions at the main entrance, to the bronze bitch looking after her puppy, to the cute kappa – a legendary river denizen – also nursing its child.

Suitengu Shrine Tokyo

Hours
7am-5pm

Access
Suitengu-mae Station, Hanzomon Subway Line, Exit 5
Google Map of Suitengu

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Industrial Waste Management Japan Company Sign

Construction Company Gate産業廃棄物会社の看板

In the hills north of Kyoto, several companies that handle industrial waste mar an otherwise pristine forest and river.

The grounds of the company are surrounded by sheet metal fences and are monitored by security cameras.

Every now and then a dump truck will roll out, loaded with only God knows what.

Illegal dumping is rife in Japan, as a quick peek into the woods and rivers that line many rural roads will attest to.

The villagers in Kumogahata, near the company pictured above, picketed and protested and even enlisted the help of the Kyoto City Communist Party to prevent the companies from setting up on this river. All to no avail. The city government went ahead and gave approval.

Below the company logo - the odd looking man with a chainsaw and cigar - is its name and license number.

© JapanVisitor.com

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Japan News this Week 7 November 2010

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan’s Auto Parts Makers Try to Anticipate Shift to Electric Cars

New York Times

Japanese Runner Looks to Make Mark in New York

New York Times

Is the Japanese gaming industry in crisis?

BBC

More turf wars for Japan after Russia's Medvedev visits disputed Kuril Islands

Christian Science Monitor

Miffy biffs Cathy in Kitty copycat case

Guardian

Tokyo investigates video behind China-Japan clash

Washington Post

啊,北方四岛,日本永远的痛

Caijing

Lawyer fatally stabbed while cops mistakenly tried to subdue him

Japan Times

Island disputes reveal Asia's evolving powers

BBC

La visite de Medvedev dans les îles Kouriles provoque la colère du Japon

Le Monde

Japan pitcher Darvish plans on playing in US in 2012

Yahoo Sports

Last week's Japan news

Japan Statistics

Percentage of Japanese polled who would "welcome the arrival of a US military base in your neighborhood."

Yes: 26%
No: 74%

Source: Asahi Shinbun Poll

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Beware Bear Sign Kyoto

Beware of bears!くま出没注意京都

In the mountains of northern Kyoto city, there is a small village called Kumogahata.

It is just a thirty-minute drive from downtown, but a world away.

Until the 1860s, it was the hunting grounds for the emperor, and game still exist in large numbers. Deer, fox, boar, and bear are all common.

This year because of the brutal heat of summer, the bear are causing havoc among city and town dwellers. Their usual food supply is in short supply, and all over Japan bear have been wandering into areas where bear and humans meet.

In Kumogahata, this is not unusual. The sign above is mainly for children who attend the small elementary school nearby. (Behind it is a crossing guard's sign.)

© JapanVisitor.com

Friday, November 05, 2010

Nail Art Salons In Japan

Even the smallest towns in Japan now have a nail art salon and large cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya and Kyoto all have many such stores.

Nail Art Salons

Nail art salons offer nail manicures, pedicures, nail enhancements, waxing and nail deco.

The Tokyo Nail Expo to be held this year on 28-29 November at Tokyo Big Sight is the biggest nail art event in Asia, and a mecca for all nail art fans and competitors.

Nail Art In Japan


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Thursday, November 04, 2010

SOAS Alumni Meeting in Tokyo

SOAS Alumni Meeting in Tokyo

London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies is one of the world’s leading centers of learning and research in things Asian and African. It has had an alumni association in Japan since the mid-90s. Having graduated with a masters in Japanese history from SOAS a decade and a half ago, I am on the alumni mailing list, and now living in Tokyo as I do, can easily attend its meetings.

Tuesday night was my first time to attend a SOAS alumni meeting. It was held at the British Embassy, just across from the Imperial Palace - only 5 minutes on my bicycle from the office in Kojimachi. It is located on what, next to the Imperial Palace itself, is historically Tokyo’s most prime real estate, having been the locale for the direct retainers of the Shogun, the gokenin and hatamoto, in the Edo era. The Shogun’s castle was the present site of the Palace.

It was only a few minutes past 6, but dark already. Cycling along the quaint old path in front of the embassy - rough paving stones flanked with a margin of a dirt track - I ask a patrolling policeman where I could park my bike.

Japanese police are often fairly genial - they must get bored and lonely - and he genially told me to ask the embassy security staff at the gate when I went in. The thin sheet of ice that the security guard I approached initially put up melted almost instantly when I told him my business and produced the crumpled e-mailed invitation that I’d printed out as required.

I told him my surname, he confirmed my first name, I showed him my alien registration card (or was it my driver’s license?), and he ticked my name off on his list. I was able to take my bike inside, and was escorted halfway to the bike stands and given directions where to go after that.

It had been a brilliantly sunny day, the first in a long time it seemed, and the night sky was as clear and starry as it gets for Tokyo. It looked especially picturesque framed by the dark Doric lines of the main embassy building, built in 1930.

I paid my 4,000 yen (had to be exact change) at the door, and got an "I Love SOAS" badge (see pic above - taken in the mirror, so reads funny) and an "I Love SOAS" business card holder - both in beautiful SOAS purple. The get together was well attended, with about 40 to 50 people filling the function room, and had a good mix of male and female, Japanese and foreigners, recent graduates and old graduates.

The opening address by the Director of SOAS, Professor Paul Webley, was partway through when I entered. He spoke of how successfully SOAS is doing in spite of the 40% cut to tertiary education spending by the British government (not as drastic as it sounds since SOAS relies on the state for only 25% of its funding).

The 4000 yen was worth it, especially since, we were told, it will not be required for future get togethers. Solicitous staff were constantly circulating, proactively refilling drinks and proffering mouthful after mouthful of everything from tiny egg sandwiches, to tandoori chicken pieces on toothpicks, to all sorts of great tasting sushi.

Having been out of the SOAS milieu for so long it was pleasant to relive it, however remotely and dilutedly, and talk to new people from different SOAS periods and fields of study.

I met teachers, students, administrators, an anthropology researcher. Fittingly the person most lacking in social nerviness was Professor Paul Webley who shone energy and joviality and helped keep the evening bubbling.

Five conversations was about my limit before my smile started to feel stuck on; any more and my face-and-name memory would have given out (may I blame two solid years of mid- and post-seminar breaks downstairs at the SOAS cafe all those years ago?) so I shook hands goodbye and made my way with my four or five meishi back out into the night.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bunka no Hi Culture Day

文化の日

Today is Bunka no Hi  (boonka no hee) or Culture Day a national holiday in Japan.

Originally November 3rd was celebrated as the Meiji Emperor's birthday (Tencho-setsu 天長節), but in 1948 this day's name was changed to Culture Day. The government and schools annually award prizes for cultural achievement to celebrate the day. The prestigious Order of Culture is awarded on this day to leading figures in the world of science, culture and the arts.

Schools, universities, banks and offices close but museums usually stay open.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dead Crow Near Atsuta Shrine

カラス

We came across this rather gross dead crow near Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya. The carcass was being devoured by other crows. Yuk! Though at least they clean up their own mess.

Dead Crow Near Atsuta Shrine

Crows will feed on any organic matter.




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