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Monday, February 28, 2011

Tokyo Marathon 2011

東京マラソン2011年



The Tokyo Marathon took place yesterday (Sunday). The winner was Hailu Mekonnen of Ethiopia with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds. Second was Paul Biwottof Kenya with a time of 2:08:17, and third was Yuki Kawaguchi of Japan with a time of 2:08:37. Mekonnen's win was not record-breaking, however, falling 11 seconds short of the record set in 2008 by Viktor Rothlin of Switzerland.

The 36,000 people who ran in the marathon this year still made up only a fraction of the 330,000 who applied.

In the Marathon's present form, this time was the fifth Tokyo Marathon - and, thanks partly, perhaps, to the unseasonably warm spring-like weather (about 18 degrees) - it was the first Tokyo Marathon not to be rained on.



The Tokyo Marathon starts at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and finishes at Tokyo Big Sight. The 10km finish point is Hibiya Park.

Ginza, Tokyo's most famous shopping district, is on the course, and the photos here are of the Tokyo Marathon banners that festooned Ginza's streets.

Read about the Tokyo Marathon 2012

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Japan News This Week 27 February 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.Ruling Party In Japan Suspends Kingmaker

New York Times

Why Japan has a problem with prime ministers

Christian Science Monitor

Naoto Kan in Japanese budget impasse

BBC

Japan unearths site linked to human experiments

Guardian

Search ends for trapped Japanese

Japan Times

"En Twitter una novedad dura tres días"

El Pais

日本2010年太阳能电池国内市场出货量猛增

Caijing

Waiting for the Dam to Break: WikiLeaks and Japan

Japan Focus

Japan’s Ando wins ladies title at Four Continents

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

The cases of sexual abuse committed by teachers in public schools has increased by 40% in the last ten years.

In the 2009 school year, 138 teachers were punished for "inappropriate sexual contact wit their students or minors."

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

Japan's 2010 Oil imports, by country and percentage:

Saudi Arabia: 28.8%
UAE: 20.4%
Qatar: 11.8%
Iran: 9.6%
Russia: 7.1%
Kuwait: 7.1%
Oman: 3.3%
Iraq: 3.2%
Yemen: 2.3%
Indonesia: 2.3%
Other: 4.1%

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

江戸東京たてもの園

The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is a part of the excellent Edo-Tokyo Museum in the Ryogoku area of Japan's capital. Like Meiji Mura in Aichi Prefecture, the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is a collection of historic buildings, mainly from the Tokyo area, brought to a new location for preservation.


The majority of the structures are from the Meiji Period (1868-1912) but later and earlier buildings can also be found. The preserved displays include a koban (police box), a sento (public bath), a Tokyo street car, a photo studio, an opulent residence belonging to a member of the Mitsui family and a number of thatched farmhouses.

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum map


Access

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
From Musashi Koganei Station (North Exit) on the JR Chuo Line walk along Silk Road to the entrance to Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum or take a Seibu bus to Koganei-koen nishi-guchi.
Admission: 400 yen for adults
Hours: 9.30am-5.30 pm April-September; 9.30am-4.30pm, October-March
Closed: Mondays
Tel: 042 388 3300

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Sakaki Jinja

第六天榊神社

Enjoy a visit to Sakaki Shrine in Taito-ku in Tokyo. Our guide explains some of the features you will experience on a visit to any Shinto shrine.

These include the torii or shrine gate, stone lanterns known as toro, sando, the shrine path way, temisuya or chozuya, a water basin for purification, komainu, lion-dog guardians, ema, votive plaques and inari, foxes.

The honden is the main building where the shrine's kami (gods) live. The haiden is where worshippers to the shrine pray.




Sakaki Shrine
Taito-ku
Kuramae 1-4-3
Tokyo

The nearest stations are JR Asakusabashi Station and Kuramae Station on the Toei Asakusa Line.


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mundo Latino Gotanda Tokyo

ムンドラティーノ


Mundo Latino is a small shop on the 3rd floor of a building in Gotanda, Tokyo, that since 2001 has been selling mainly food, but also CDs, DVDs, magazines and newspapers from South America. Its location undoubtedly has a lot to do with it being near the Consulate General of the Republic of Peru in Tokyo and the Consulate-General of Brazil in Tokyo (not to be confused with the Tokyo embassies of these countries).

It doubles up as an information center for the capital’s South America community, with fliers, posters, and a notice board for various different events, as well as personal advertisements for goods and services.

The shop is a small space but densely stocked with typical South American foods and beverages, such as Brazilian coffee, from cheap to expensive, cachaça (AKA aguardente, pinga, caninha) the fermented sugarcane liquor from Brazil, tortillas, chorizo, beans of all sorts, and even ice creams all the way from South America.

Beside the counter is a small tropical juice bar.

For customers who can’t make it to the shop itself, an online ordering and home delivery service is also available via the Mundo Latino website.

Ochiai Bldg. 3F, 1-12-12 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Tel/Fax 03-6408-0748
Free Call 0088 22 0080
Hours 10am - 7pm (Closed 1pm-2pm daily for lunch)
Mundo Latino Map



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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ippodo Kyoto Tea

Ippodo Kyoto一保堂

Ippodo is the be all and end all for Japanese tea lovers.

Though partisans of tea grown in Shizuoka will no doubt object, the center of the green tea universe is located on Teramachi north of Kyoto City Hall.

The tea company Ippodo was founded in 1717, when Ihei Watanabe established the now legendary tea shop.

The store sells many varieties of tea and tea utensils.

It is also possible to sit and drink Japanese green tea in the Kaboku Tea Room.

Information

From Oike Dori, walk north on Teramachi (the small street next on the west side of City Hall) for 5-7 minutes. On the right (east) side in a large traditional building with noren curtains.

Tel: 075 211 3421 


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Map of Shikoku

四国の地図

Use this map of Shikoku to navigate your way around this beautiful island to temples, shrines, hotels, ryokan, sento (Japanese bath houses), museums, traditional shops, department stores, subway stations and Shikoku parks and gardens. Places included on the map include Dogo Onsen, Makino Botanical Gardens, Moraes Hall, Zentsuji Temple, Ritsurin ParkSymbol Tower and Kompira-san.


View Shikoku Map in a larger map

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Gay Shimbashi Tokyo

ゲイ 新橋

Gay Shimbashi Tokyo


For most foreigners, gay Tokyo means Shinjuku 2-chome, but for Japanese, and many Japanese-conversant foreigners, Tokyo's gay scene extends considerably further.

The biggest concentration of gay bars in Tokyo outside of Shinjuku Ni-Chome is in Shinbashi, just south of Ginza.

Unlike Shinjuku, the gay bars in Shimbashi do not form a tight enclave. They are also generally smaller and effectively reserved for (Japanese) regular customers. Also, Shinbashi is definitely for the more mature set, the average age group being 35-50 years old. This makes for quite a different vibe from the predominantly youthful Ni-Chome.

I was in Shimbashi on the weekend. It is easily accessed. The area is served by the following railway lines: Japan Rail Yamanote Line, the Ginza Subway Line, the Asakusa Subway Line, and, via the nearby Shiodome Station, the Rinkai Line, and the Oedo Subway Line.

With a group of friends, we called in on Town House Tokyo.  Town House Tokyo has been a gay Shinbashi presence since 2003. It is big for a Japanese gay bar, cheap at 500 yen a drink, popular (especially on Fridays, when we went), friendly, has karaoke, and theme nights, including regular underwear-only nights. The staff is welcoming and attentive, making sure you always have a drink, and the free and easy seating/standing arrangement means the chance to chat up is always there.

As with most Japanese gay bars: no photo taking - thus our pictorial coverage (at top) being limited to the outside entrance - the stairs at right.

Read more about gay Shimbashi.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Japan News This Week 20 February 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.Japan Plans World’s Fastest Train

New York Times

Japan sees alarming rise in child abuse

CNN

Japan halts whale hunt after chase by protesters

BBC

Japanese citizens make £44,000 legal challenge to surname law

Guardian

DPJ revolt shows signs of growing

Japan Times

"En Twitter una novedad dura tres días"

El Pais

日本2010年太阳能电池国内市场出货量猛增

Caijing

The Doomsday Project, Deep Events, and the Shrinking of American Democracy

Japan Focus

Japan police seek gambling charges against sumos

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

More than six in ten Japanese primary school teachers fell that teaching English - from this April a required subject - is a "burden." They feel ill-prepared.

Homeroom teachers in the fifth and sixth grades will be teaching English come the new academic year. 77% of those polled said a specialist should do this teaching

Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tokyo Anime "Amen 2011" Dance Party

東京アニメ アーメン2011



Fancy getting down to anime movie anthems on the dancefloor? Well ready your goggles, ray guns, and lycra tights, because here comes Tokyo Anime "Amen 2011"!

From 7pm, Sunday, March 27 2011 Tokyo Anime "Amen 2011" at Shibuya O-Floor.

The main DJ is DJ Kindhearted-Obake (obake [oh-bah-kay] meaning "ghost"), with several others spinning nerdy hits to wiggle to.

From the Tokyo Anime "Amen 2011" website:
"“Both of them believes that they are in the right. That’s how the war goes. (Doraemon from”DORAEMON”)
[Several lines of gobbledygook]
We have rented one whole building. An “Ani-song Castle” which every floor plays animation-songs only. It will be a wonderful night, dancing around and soak up animation-songs. Everyone face to love, respect, and the surroundings for expressions like Animation.
“You know that the Earth is not a place for War!” (Loran Cehack from”∀Gundam”)"

Books about manga and anime

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Japanese Mnemonics Goroawase

語呂合わせ

A type of mnemonic wordplay often seen in advertising in Japan is goroawase. This is the use of the different phonetic values of digits to place furigana above phone numbers to make the numbers easier to remember and spell out a pertinent message. A set of possible readings exists in Japanese for each number taken from the kunyomi and onyomi readings of the kanji characters plus English-language pronunciations.

Here are a few examples of goroawase to illustrate the point. The image below is an ad for a cooking school and the number 422-760 can be read shefu ni naroo (Let's become a chef!)


This example of goroawase reads yoyaku shiyo yo or please make a reservation!


Yet another is yoyaku koko sa or make your reservation here! The sa at the end of a word is common Nagoya usage and acts very much like yo to give emphasis to the statement.

If you have any examples of interesting goroawase, we'd love to hear from you. Please leave them in the comments section.




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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Setsubun Festival Yoshida Shrine Kyoto

Outdoor stall at Yoshida Shrine節分際吉田神社

Of the events celebrating the arrival of the lunar new year - "setsubun" in Japanese - the bonfire at Kyoto's Yoshida Shrine is the largest.

It is held from the evening of February 3rd until early the following morning.

Both sides of the street leading up to the torii gate at the entrance are lined with festival stalls, one of which is pictured here. The street bisects Kyoto University.

The stalls are popular with families that make up most of the visitors early on. They sell food and drinks, and offer old-time games.

From around 10 pm, though, the crowd thins and those left congregate around the massive bonfire within the grounds of the shrine.

Revelers bring old clothes and items they wish to dispose of, and throw them into the fire. The act is symbolic and cleansing.

The fire is finally put out and pulled down around 3 am. Most head home after that, but some of the stall sellers - a bit too drunk for their own good - always seem to end up fighting.


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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snowy Tokyo

雪の東京



Tokyo's temperature low on Tuesday was 1 degree Celsius, and, on leaving home that morning, it showed. Monday night's snowstorm had left a frigid white carpet over the capital's streets, admittedly a patchy one, but more than Tokyo has been used to in recent winters.

And, as the icing on the cake, someone had created not just one, but two, snowmen outside our building. The less artistic one got the better backdrop: the Tokyo Sky Tree (still under construction)...

Snow man in Tokyo


...while the one with the beautiful lemon eyes and leek limbs got the trash collection corner:

Snowman in Tokyo

I'm guessing that mushroom on the floor was the poor little guy's nose!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Soft Sounds of the Tokyo Police

Listen to a Tokyo Police announcement

Listen to sounds of the soft side of Japanese authority: "Please observe traffic rules and manners and kindly cooperate in preventing accidents."

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Setsubun Festivals in Kyoto

京都の節分祭

Kyoto plays host to a number of interesting setsubun festivals on February 3rd each year. This auspicious day is one day before Risshun, which is the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.

Setsubun Festivals Kyoto


In ceremonies, first imported from China centuries ago, devils (oni) and ill-fortune were symbolically driven out by a four-eyed shaman, Hososhi, who drove the demons away from the four cardinal directions. This ritual exorcism was later replaced by bean-throwing, where the devils were driven off with shouts of "oni wa soto; fuku wa uchi" (demons out; fortune in). This tradition continues in households throughout the country using roasted soy beans.

Setsubun festivals are held at Heian Jingu (3rd Feb), Rozanji Temple (3rd Feb), featured on the video below), Shimogamo Shrine (3rd Feb), Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (3rd Feb), Yoshida Shrine (2nd-4th Feb), Mibu-dera Shrine (2nd-4th Feb), Yasaka Shrine (2nd-3rd Feb), Shogo-in Temple (2nd-3rd Feb) and Senbon Enma-do Temple (2nd-3rd Feb).

Kyoto's geisha and maiko community is out in force during setsubun to scatter beans and perform dances.




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Monday, February 14, 2011

Kyoto Ambulance

Kyoto ambulance京都救急車

On a blustery weekend, a Kyoto ambulance trailed the annual Daimonji Ekiden road race.

The race is a major event on the calendar of all elementary school children in the city.

After a long series of qualifying races in the fall, 50 schools run in the big race in early February.

Ten six graders - five girls, five boys - make up a team. Each runner runs about 2 km.

The course wends its through the city, ending near Heian Shrine.

For safety, two policeman on motorcycles lead the procession and an ambulance pulls up the rear.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Japan News This Week 13 February 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.In Japan: Young, Numb and Violent

New York Times

Russia to deploy more arms on Kurils, claimed by Japan

BBC

Japan is right to be angry at QI atom bomb joke

Guardian

Japan at a crossroads

Japan Times

Akihito será operado del corazón

El Pais

日本国家债务创新高

Caijing

The “Power Elite” and Environmental-Energy Policy in Japan

Japan Focus

Honda to stop hosting IndyCar’s Japan race

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

Cause of death/100,000 people, by sport, during junior high school practice:

1. Judo (1.88)
2. Basketball (0.29)
3. Baseball (0.26)
4. Soccer (0.24)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Let's fight like in Egypt!" Zengakuren

「エジプトのように闘いたい!」

Zengakuren


The Zengakuren (short for Zen-Nihon Gakusei Jichikai Sōrengō, or All-Japan Federation of Student Self-Government Associations) is an umbrella group for communist student bodies, and dates from 1948.

There are five factions within the Zengakuren, all representing rifts throughout the Zengakuren’s history based largely, one presumes, on political stance and strategy.

Today, a group from the Hosei University Cultural League, affiliated with what is perhaps the most radical of the Zengakuren’s factions, the Chukaku faction, was out on the streets of Yotsuya, in front of Jochi (AKA Sophia) University with an anti-war message, and urging participation in an anti-war protest to take place at 1pm on Sunday March 20 2011 at Yoyogi Park.

March 20 will be the 8th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Drawing on the recent troubles in Egypt, a prominent message on the pamphlet they were handing out and over the loud hailer was “Let’s fight like in Egypt!”

Zengakuren flier

Zengakuren literature


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Friday, February 11, 2011

Nagoya Friends 7 Year Anniverary Party 2/19 (Sat.)

Nagoya Friends 101st party in Nagoya!
at

7 year Anniversary Party!


  • Date: Saturday February 19th, 2011
  • Time: 18:00 – 21:00
  • Drinks will be served between 6:00pm-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)
  • This is our 7 year Anniversary Party and there will be loads of prizes to give away. Come join us for a chance to win! Prizes include a new rice cooker, 5 kg of rice, a new digital camera, wine and much much more!!
  • 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.


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Japanese Girl Handing Out Pamphlets in Kyoto


京都でDHCチラシを配る女性

On a frigid night, we found a DHC girl on a busy corner in central Kyoto.

Part bunny girl - with ears on steroids - part maid, she is all Japanese.

Where else could you get a young, perky, attractive woman to pass out flyers, in the middle of winter, advertising cosmetics and diet products while wearing a green mini-skirt with white lace trim - and really to seem to enjoy it?

We are guessing she is earning in the neighborhood of 1000 yen ($11) an hour.

When asked if it was ok to take her picture, she stopped, held up her flyers, and beamed a smile as warm as a July day.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Namie Amuro and the Wild Health Double Decker Bus

ワイルド・ヘルス バス 新宿

Namie Amuro


Coke Zero has been on sale in Japan since 2007, and CocaCola Japan's slogan for Coke Zero is "Wild Health"! The company claims that the "wildness" of having a Coke has found perfect harmony in this product with the "healthiness" of its zero sugar. It has just begun a new advertising campaign on TV featuring famous sportspeople in order to lend weight to its fizzy claims.

And speaking of weight, what could get more gargantuan than a genuine old London double decker bus lumbering through the streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo, with music idol Namie Amuro titillatingly sprawled along its side?

These pictures were taken on Shinjuku-dori Avenue, with Shinjuku Station visible at the right of the top photo.

Namie Amuro and the Wild Health Double Decker Bus

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Kinoko Hotel Live at Taku Taku Kyoto

Kinoko Hotel京都磔磔のライブキノコホテル

On a cold mid-winter night Kinoko Hotel - a highly ironic, highly talented Japanese chick band - heated up the venerable live house Taku Taku, in Kyoto.

The band is made up of four women in Sergeant Pepper outfits - plus mini skirts - and wigs (?). Kinoko consists of a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and vocalist that also plays/humps a keyboard (pictured in a low resolution image shot with a cell phone camera).

The sound is hard rocking and energetic.

Taku Taku, a several hundred year-old "kura" - storehouse - in downtown Kyoto,  was converted 37 years ago into its present incarnation. It has seen the likes of Robert Cray, Los Lobos, and other major-minor acts. The crowd peaked at about 75 midway through the January 31 show.

The band bantered back and forth with a clearly smitten group of fans, a mix of ages and types. And, fortunately, it was not entirely male.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Nagoya Election Campaign

Here's a snippet of a Japanese election campaign from Nagoya in central Japan. What's amazing is that no one is actually listening to the speech and there is little general interest from passersby. All this is happening at 10am in the morning, too. Never mind, they'll continue to shout at the air, meaning the candidates are doing what is expected of them as "politicians".

Note the white gloves a symbol of "clean hands" in managing public affairs, somewhat ironic considering the innumerable cases of corruption in Japanese politics.

Here's an interview with a supporter for an official running for the Mayor of Nagoya. She's also wearing 'white gloves' though that may just be because of the cold.


Former-incumbent Takashi Kawamura won the election for mayor, while Hideaki Omura was voted in as governor of Aichi Prefecture both candidates defeating opponents backed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Kawamura and Omura were supported by popular Osaka Prefecture Governor Toru Hashimoto and his One Osaka party.

© Jeff Flitch & JapanVisitor.com


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Monday, February 07, 2011

Shopping in Ginza Tokyo

Shopping in Ginza Tokyo


Ginza is an area of Tokyo just south of Tokyo Station. For well over a century it has been associated with commercial elegance and opulence. It is home to a handful of the grandest of Tokyo's department stores, and to a huge number of fashion boutiques representing the best known international haute couture labels. It also has Tokyo's biggest concentration of art galleries.

On Sundays, Chuo-dori Avenue, the main street running through Ginza, is closed to traffic. It makes a pedestrian paradise of Ginza, and for one of Tokyo's best people watching opportunities - a large number of them tourists from China. The side streets off Chuo-dori are generally elegant, especially west of Chuo-dori, as typified by Yanagi-dori, or Willow Road, pictured above.

Read more about Ginza shopping.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Japan News This Week 6 February 2011

今週の日本

Japan News.In Text Messages, Signs of a Rigged Sumo Fight

New York Times

Japan's Shinmoedake volcano eruption prompts increased alert levels

Christian Science Monitor

No, robot: Japan's elderly fail to welcome their robot overlords

BBC

Stephen Fry shelves filming in Japan after atomic bomb jokes outcry

Guardian

Russian defense chief tours isles' defenses

Japan Times

Camisetas básicas, cinturones japoneses

El Pais

日本雾岛山新燃岳火山再次喷发

Caijing

Fire Bombings and Forgotten Civilians: The Lawsuit Seeking Compensation for Victims of the Tokyo Air Raids 焼夷弾空襲と忘れられた被災市民―東京大空襲犠牲者による損害賠償請求訴訟

Japan Focus

Spain leads FIFA rankings, Japan into top 20

Yahoo Sports

Last Week's News

Statistics

Reason for divorce, top four, by sex:

Women:

1. Incompatible with spouse
2. Domestic violence
3. Emotional abuse
4. Infidelity

Men:

1. Incompatible with spouse
2. Infidelity
3. Problems with family family members
4. Abnormal personality (of spouse)

Source: Japan Supreme Court, as reported in the Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani Yaenkoen

スノーモンキー

On a recent visit to photograph the Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani Yaenkoen in Nagano Prefecture, nature writer Mark Brazil sent us this amazing image of a trio of Japanese Macaques huddling together to keep warm.

Snow Monkeys Jigokudani Yaenkoen

Sometimes a thick winter coat just isn't enough protection against the elements. Then, huddling together conserves extra warmth - and makes for wonderfully photogenic moments.

© Mark Brazil & Japan Visitor


Access

Jidokudani-Yaenkoen

From Tokyo Station, take the JR Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano Station. Change to the Nagano Dentetsu train to Yudanaka (40 minutes by express or 1 hour by local train). From Yudanaka, catch a local bus (15 minutes) or take a taxi to Kanbayashi Onsen. From here it's a 20-30 minute walk to Jigokudani Yaenkoen (Entrance 500 yen).

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Ichihashi Tatsuya Publishes Book

市橋達也 リンゼイ・アン・ホーカー

On the eve of 32-year-old Tatsuya Ichihashi's trial for the rape and murder of English converstion teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in Tokyo in 2007, the former fugitive has published a controversial book "Until I Was Arrested" (Taiho Sareru Made: Kuhaku no Ninen Nanakagetsu no Kiroku) about his two years and seven months on the run from the Japanese police.

The 240-page book has been criticized by Hawker's parents, who said they "wanted only justice" for their daughter and were "hurt" and "disgusted" by the book's release.

Ichihashi initially escaped barefoot from a group of nine police officers, who had gathered outside his apartment to question him. He then fled to the far north of Japan and also spent time in Okinawa as well as working for a construction company in Osaka to pay for his extensive plastic surgery.

Ichihashi details how he cut off a prominent mole on his cheek with a knife and wandered around more than 20 prefectures while fleeing capture, sometimes existing on a diet of fish and snakes while on the tiny and remote Ohajima in Okinawa. He also details how he visited the famous pilgrimage route in Shikoku hoping to "bring Lindsay back to life."

According to reports in the Japanese press, publisher Gentosha said Ichihashi penned the book "as part of an act of contrition for the crime," and intends to hand over any royalties to Hawker's family. The cover illustration and other drawings inside the book are the work of Ichihashi, who has admitted he bound his victim before assaulting her and then abandoning her body in a bath of sand on his apartment balcony.

Ichihashi Tatsuya



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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Map of Kyushu

九州の地図

Use this scrollable map of Kyushu to navigate to the major attractions of Japan's southern island. Get more detailed information on Canal City, Fukuoka Dome and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Fukuoka, the tombstone of William Adams and the Matsuura Historical Museum in Hirado and many other places of interest in Kyushu including museums, parks, castles and temples in Kumamoto, Oita, Mt Aso, Beppu Onsen and Takachiho.


View Fukuoka Map & Map of Kyushu in a larger map


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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower

The Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower is an impressive Tokyo skyscraper between Tokyo and Kanda Stations and located next to the neo-classical Mitsui Main Building. The 194m tower, which was completed in 2005, has 39 floors above ground and 4 basement floors.

Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower Tokyo

Floors B1, 1 and 2 have a number of up-market restaurants and cafes and a branch of the Family Mart convenience store chain. The rest of the complex is taken up with offices and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the 30th to 38th floors.

The entrance to the Mitsui Memorial Building in on the 1st floor.

Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower
2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi
Chuo-ku
Tokyo
Tel: 03 5777 8600
Hours: 7.30am-11pm daily

Access

A 1-minute walk along an underground passageway from Mitsukoshimae subway station on the Ginza and Hanzomon lines or the Tokyo subway, a 3-minute walk from Shin-Nihonbashi Station on the JR Sobu Line or a 7-minute walk from Kanda Station on the JR Yamanote and Chuo lines.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hagoita

羽子板

Hagoita are wooden paddles used to play a badminton-like game called hanetsuki (羽根突). The battledores are brightly decorated often with characters from Kabuki dramas. Hagoita appear to date from the Edo Period (1603-1868) of Japanese history.

Hagoita in Japan


The game of hanetsuki is traditionally played by young girls at New Year.

Hagoita can be bought to use as a decoration and make for colorful souvenirs of a holiday in Japan.

Hagoita on sale in Tokyo, Japan


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