Tag Archives: Japan

Tottori’s Skin Care Hot Springs – Osaka and Kyoto!

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Hot springs (Onsen) are said to promote beauty, health and improve your wellbeing. The Tottori prefecture is home to many – its people are considered to have the most beautiful skin in Japan. The Tottori prefecture is easily accessible from Osaka and Kyoto. The hot springs should be a serious consideration for any travel itinerary.

Misasa Onsen – A World-Leading Radium Spring

Misasa – “three mornings”, is in Kurayoshi. It is a radium hot spring that has the world’s highest concentration of Radon. Radon is said to help boost metabolism, immunity and increase the body’s natural ability to heal. They say it also helps prevent cancer, slow down aging, and prevent certain lifestyle diseases. The healing effects after spending “three mornings” in the Misasa hot springs. It has become a popular travel destination from people all over the world, with both local and international people visiting. You can get to Misasa through a 20-minute bus ride from JR Kurayoshi Station. Kurayoshi itself can be accessed in 3 to 4 hours by the JR Limited Express train, from Osaka or Kyoto.

Kaike Onsen – Sulfate Salt Spring

Located in Yonago, the Kaike hot spring is mixed with seawater and is said to be a ‘sulfate salt spring’. 

This type of spring is effective in treating nerve pain, gastrointestinal disorders, cold sensitivity, rheumatism, and a variety of other skin diseases and disorders. It also helps to beautify one’s skin. Beyond the hot spring, one can also enjoy seafood, stunning views from this coastal town and stay at one of the many hotels within the Kaike area.

To get to Yonago, you take a 3- to 4-hour train journey by the JR Limited Express from either Osaka or Kyoto. And spend 20 minutes on a bus from the JR Yonoga station to the Kaike Onsen.

Tottori Hot Spring

Tottori city is a popular travel destination on its own. It is home to the Tottori Sand Dunes in the east, and the Uradome coast. The Tottori Onsen accommodates travelers who are looking for an overnight experience or are there only for a day.

For overnight visitors, you can stay at one of the ryokans (traditional Japanese inn).  Each ryokan is unique and offers something different from the other. The hot spring is very accessible. It is located only 5 minutes from the JR Tottori station. You can get to the JR Tottori Station in 3 to 4 hours through the JR Limited Express from either Osaka, or Kyoto.

Explore the other Onsens

There are a handful of other hot springs in the Tottori prefecture that you can also choose to visit. The Hawaii and Togo Onsens are in central Tottori, at the shore of Lake Togo (not too far from Kurayoshi). And the Sekigane Onsen (platinum springs) and Iwai Onsen (located near the Tottori sand dunes) are not too far away either. All within travelling distance of each other.

東京の銭湯

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かつて、東京のすべての地域には1つ以上の銭湯(銭湯)がありました。ただし、過去10年間で、この数は減少しています。最近、銭湯が再び人気を博し始めています。大きなものは今、1つの屋根の下でリラクゼーション、食事、娯楽を提供しています。小さいものは人々が昔の感覚を得るのを許します。東京では温泉水は自然に出ませんが、最新のポンプとボーリング技術により、どこにでも自然に温められた水を得ることができます。十分に深く行かなければなりません。このため、東京の中心部には温泉水が入った大浴場がいくつかあります。

大浴場複合施設

大江戸温泉物語

この大きなお風呂は、テレコムセンター駅から徒歩数分です。 2003年にオープンした温泉テーマパークです。江戸時代を彷彿とさせる雰囲気です。

Katsute, Tōkyō no subete no chiiki ni wa 1tsu ijō no sentō (sentō) ga arimashita. Tadashi, kako 10-nenkan de, kono sū wa genshō shite imasu. Saikin, sentō ga futatabi ninki o hakushi hajimete imasu. Ōkina mono wa ima, 1tsu no yane no shita de rirakuzēshon, shokuji, goraku o teikyō shite imasu. Chīsai mono wa hitobito ga mukashi no kankaku o eru no o yurushimasu. Tōkyōde wa onsen mizu wa shizen ni demasenga, saishin no ponpu to bōringu gijutsu ni yori, doko ni demo shizen ni atatame rareta mizu o eru koto ga dekimasu. Jūbun ni fukaku ikanakereba narimasen. Ko no tame, Tōkyō no chūshin-bu ni wa onsen mizu ga haitta dai yokujō ga ikutsu ka arimasu. Dai yokujō fukugō shisetsu ōedo onsen monogatari kono ōkina o furo wa, terekomusentā-eki kara toho sūbundesu. 2003-Nen ni ōpun shita onsen tēmapākudesu. Edo jidai o hōfutsu to sa seru fun’ikidesu.

さまざまな種類の露天風呂と内湯があります。その上、一晩の滞在、ゲーム、マッサージ、レストラン、その他の娯楽を楽しむことができます。

LaQua

LaQuaは東京ドームから少し離れたところにある有名なリラクゼーションオアシスです。 2003年にオープンしました。美容とマッサージサービス、リラクゼーションスペース、サウナ、温泉ツールを備えています。このお風呂の温泉水は、1キロ以上の深さから汲み上げられています。

庭のゆう

東京北西部、豊島園駅近くにある温泉団地。このオアシスでは、マッサージ、リラクゼーションエリア、サウナ、屋内プール、さまざまな温泉プール、大きな日本庭園、いくつかの飲食店をお楽しみいただけます。このお風呂の温泉水は地下1400メートル以上から。

小さな銭湯

押上大黒湯

この銭湯は1949年からあります。東京スカイツリーから数分のところにある雰囲気のお風呂です。男女別の大浴場で、高い壁が特徴の露天風呂があります。インテリアはフローリング(チェンジングエリア)とタイル張りの壁画(バスエリア)。共同シャンプーやボディソープは提供していませんが、大小のタオルを貸し出しています。

蛇骨湯

この銭湯は浅草駅からほど近い浅草にあります。かなりの歴史があります。地元の人々はそこで時間を過ごすのが大好きなので、訪問者は彼らと交流することができます。大浴場を見下ろすのは富士山の壁画。この銭湯には屋根付きの露天風呂もあります。販売用のシンプルなアメニティキットとレンタル用のタオルがあります。共同シャンプーと石鹸も提供しています。

Samazamana shurui no rotenburo to uchiyu ga arimasu. Sono Ue, hitoban no taizai, gēmu, massāji, resutoran, sonohoka no goraku o tanoshimu koto ga dekimasu. Rakūa rakūa wa Tōkyō dōmu kara sukoshi hanareta tokoro ni aru yūmeina rirakuzēshon’oashisudesu. 2003-Nen ni ōpun shimashita. Biyō to massājisābisu, rirakuzēshonsupēsu, sauna, onsen tsūru o sonaete imasu. Kono o furo no onsen mizu wa, 1-kiro ijō no fuka-sa kara kumiage rarete imasu. Niwa no yū Tōkyō hokuseibu, Toshimaen-eki chikaku ni aru onsen danchi. Kono oashisude wa, massāji, rirakuzēshon’eria, sauna, okunai pūru, samazamana onsen pūru, ōkina Nihon teien, ikutsu ka no inshoku-ten o o tanoshimi itadakemasu. Kono o furo no onsen mizu wa chika 1400 mētoru ijō kara. Chīsana sentō Oshiage daikokuyu kono sentō wa 1949-nen kara arimasu. Tōkyō sukaitsurī kara sūbun no tokoro ni aru fun’iki no o furodesu. Danjo-betsu no dai yokujō de, takai kabe ga tokuchō no rotenburo ga arimasu. Interia wa furōringu (chenjingueria) to tairubari no hekiga (basu eria). Kyōdō shanpū ya bodisōpu wa teikyō shite imasenga, daishō no taoru o kashidashite imasu. Jakotsuyu kono sentō wa Asakusa-eki kara hodochikai Asakusa ni arimasu. Kanari no rekishi ga arimasu. Jimoto no hitobito wa sokode jikan o sugosu no ga daisukinanode, hōmon-sha wa karera to kōryū suru koto ga dekimasu. Dai yokujō o miorosu no wa Fujisan no hekiga. Kono sentō ni wa yane-tsuki no rotenburo mo arimasu. Hanbai-yō no shinpuruna amenitikitto to rentaru-yō no taoru ga arimasu. Kyōdō shanpū to sekken mo teikyō shite imasu.

熱海湯

このお風呂は、JR飯田橋駅近くの神楽坂にあります。 1954年に開業し、現在に至るまで、薪を使って水を加熱しています。ここの装飾はクラシックでほとんどヴィンテージです。大小問わず、レンタルタオルがあります。シャンプー、石鹸、アメニティキットは提供されていません。

南青山清水湯

表参道駅近くの静かな場所にある銭湯です。リラックスできるバックグラウンドミュージックといくつかのバスからお楽しみいただけます。シャンプーや石鹸は提供していませんが、アメニティキットを購入してタオルを借りることはできます。

Atami yu kono o furo wa, JR Īdabashi-eki chikaku no Kagurazaka ni arimasu. 1954-Nen ni kaigyō shi, genzai ni itaru made, maki o tsukatte mizu o kanetsu shite imasu. Koko no sōshoku wa kurashikku de hotondo vu~intējidesu. Daishō towazu, rentaru taoru ga arimasu. Shanpū, sekken, amenitikitto wa teikyō sa rete imasen. Minamiaoyama Shimizu yu Omotesandō-eki chikaku no shizukana basho ni aru sentōdesu. Rirakkusudekiru bakkuguraundomyūjikku to ikutsu ka no basu kara o tanoshimi itadakemasu. Shanpū ya sekken wa teikyō shite imasenga, amenitikitto o kōnyū shite taoru o kariru koto wa dekimasu.

Public Baths in Tokyo

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In the past, every neighborhood in Tokyo had one or more public baths (sento). Over the last decade, however, this number has decreased. Recently, public baths have started becoming popular again. The larger ones now offer relaxation, dining and entertainment under one roof. The smaller ones allow people to get a feel of the old days. Onsen water does not surface naturally in Tokyo but modern pumping and boring technologies have made it possible to get naturally heated water anywhere—you only must go deep enough. Because of this, several large bath complexes with hot spring water have mushroomed all over central Tokyo. 

Large Bath Complexes

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

This large bath is a few minutes’ walk from the Telecom Center Station. It is a hot spring theme park, opened in 2003. The atmosphere here replicates the Edo Period. It offers various kinds of both outdoor and indoor baths. On top of that, you can enjoy overnight stays, games, massage, restaurants and other entertainment. 

LaQua

LaQua is a well-known relaxation oasis located a short distance from Tokyo Dome. It was also opened in 2003. It features beauty and massage services, relaxation space, saunas and hot spring tools. The hot spring water in this bath is pumped from more than one kilometer deep. 

Niwa no Yu

This hot spring bath complex is in northwest Tokyo, close to Toshimaen Station. In this oasis, you will enjoy massage, relaxation areas, saunas, an indoor pool, different hot spring pools, a big Japanese garden and several dining options. The hot spring water in this bath is from 1400+ meters underground. 

Small Bath Houses

Oshiage Daikoku-yu

This sento has been there since 1949. It is an atmospheric bath located a few minutes from the Tokyo Skytree. This gender-separated public bathhouse features outdoor baths characterized by high walls. The interior has wooden flooring (changing area) and a tiled mural (bath area). They do not offer communal shampoo and body soap, but they rent out small and large towels.

Jakotsu-yu

This public bath is in Asakusa, not far from Asakusa Station. It has quite the history. Locals love to spend time there so visitors can mingle with them. Overlooking the main baths is a mural of Mount Fuji. This sento also features a roofed outdoor bath. There are simple amenity kits for sale and towels for rent. They provide communal shampoo and soap too. 

Atami-yu

You can find this bath in Kagurazaka, close to the JR Iidabashi Station. It was opened in 1954 and since then to date, water is heated using burning wood. The decorations here are classic and almost vintage. There are towels for rent, both large and small. Shampoo, soap, and amenity kits are not provided.

Minami Aoyama Shimizu-yu

This public bath is in a quiet place near the Omotesando Station. You will enjoy relaxing background music and several baths to choose from. They do not offer shampoo and soap, but you can buy amenity kits and rent towels. 

Tokyo Hotels

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Traveling to Japan for the first time is exciting. However, finding a place to stay can be a pain. This guide will answer all your questions concerning accommodation for first time tourists or business travelers to Tokyo. There are many amazing hotels in Tokyo.

The following are top of the list. The three of them are in Ginza and Shinjuku—which are the best areas to stay when visiting Tokyo. Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku: if you consider yourself a practical traveler, you will love this hotel. It is in an amazing place in Shinjuku and charges reasonable prices. Their Twin Rooms are quite spacious.

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo Shinjuku: for those traveling as a group or family, this is a wonderful place to stay. The hotel has a free Disney shuttle bus so you can conveniently go to Tokyo Disney.

Millennium Mitsui Garden Ginza: this one suits those that are planning to shop like it is their last day or those that want to be close to the Tokyo Station. 

Is It Expensive to Stay in Tokyo Hotels?

Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo hotels are not that expensive. You can easily find an awesome 3.5* hotel in Tokyo for about $150—similar hotels in Hong Kong and Singapore go for the same price. 

This is how much you should expect to pay for hotels:

3 – 3.5* hotels – $100 to $200

4 – 4.5* hotels – $150 to $300

5* hotels – $300+

Hotel Zebra

Hotels in Asia, generally, offer value for your money. The service standards are very high even for the hotels that are considered 3.5*. 

Twin Rooms Vs Double Rooms in Tokyo Hotels

In Tokyo, you will find that hotels have two kinds of rooms. 

Double room: the room is typically 15 – 19 sqm in size and has one double-sized bed. The bed is set against a wall. These rooms are best suited for couples.

Twin room: the typical size is 20 – 25 sqm (in Central Tokyo) and there are two twin beds. Outside of Tokyo Central, you can find even bigger twin rooms. 

Twin rooms tend to be pricier than double rooms, but they are also bigger. 

Peak Season and Saturday Rates

During peak seasons or Saturdays, you may pay an extra 30% for regular rooms. The Japanese love to take weekend trips and that is why prices surge. It is also difficult to get rooms during this time. 

Stay Near a Metro or Train Station

Taxi fares are very high in Japan and you are better off staying near major train stations (think the JR Yamanote Line train loop). If you cannot find a hotel close to the Yamanote line, book one near the Tokyo metro subway. 

7 Best Tokyo Tourists Districts to Stay In

Tokyo has 20 district wards. The seven listed below are more suitable for tourists. Shinjuku is the overall best. 

  1. Shinjuku
  2. Ginza
  3. Tokyo Station
  4. Shibuya

Best places to stay with family:

  1. Asakusa
  2. Odaiba
  3. Tokyo Disney

Hokkaido Winter Itinerary

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Do you have a winter trip to Hokkaido coming up? Maybe you do but you have not had the time to create a plan for your stay. You’ve probably not even made a hotel reservation. If that is you, read on.

Day One: Chitose > Niseko

This is an assumption: you will touch down before 13:00 at New Chitose Airport. The last bus from the airport to Niseko is at 15:30.

Niseko has five ski resorts and the most popular one is Grand Hirafu. Book a room for two nights at Niseko Park Hotel or Niseko Prince Hotel Hirafutei. 

Day Two: Niseko

Grand Hirafu is fun but you should also get to see the rest of the ski resorts such as Moiwa, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri. 

When you stay for two nights at Niseko, you will have time to explore.

Day 3: Niseko > Sapporo

The next stop is Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido. There are great hotels here such as the Sapporo Grand Hotel, which is near the JR Sapporo Station. 

When you check in, maybe take a nap or rest. In the evening, get out and see the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri—the most famous snow festival in Japan.

Day 4: Sapporo > Otaru

During winter, Otaru is the most famous holiday destination. It has an annual winter event known as the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.  The snow lanterns and snow illuminated sculptures are so beautiful. 

The festival goes on for 10 days in the month of February.

Day 5: Sapporo > Abashiri

Go to the JR Sapporo Station and get a train (early morning) to Abashiri. Let the hotel know the night before. The journey will take about 6 hours and it is a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscape. 

When you get to Abashiri, check in at the Dormy Inn Abashiri. Next, head out and explore the Abashiri Drift Ice. 

Day 6: Abashiri > Asahikawa

Asahikawa is a must-visit, especially if you have kids. The best thing is that you can get cheaper accommodation. There are also numerous restaurants in which you can taste the finest local cuisine. Make sure to enjoy the Asahiyama Zoo and Asahikawa Winter Festival. 

Day 7: Asahikawa > Sapporo

Book a reservation at the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo. 

From there, have lunch at a cool restaurant, go shopping and make sure you visit the Sapporo Beer Garden. 

In the evening, explore Mount Moiwa and enjoy breathtaking views. 

Day 8: Sapporo > Noboribetsu

Make an early morning visit to the Curb Market or Nijo market in Sapporo. You will have a fresh seafood breakfast.

After that, hop on a train to Noboribetsu and enjoy hot spring waters. 

Day 9: Noboribetsu > Chitose

Stay at a hotel near the airport so you can witness the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival in Shikotsuko Onsen. Be sure to wait for the illumination. 

Day 10: Chitose

Go back home with a full heart! You can modify this itinerary to make it perfect just for you.

Tokyo Anime

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Akihabara is the center of anime culture, manga, and gaming in Japan. There are numerous anime stores, maid cafes, electronic shops; and any self-professed otaku will love it there. The Nakano Broadway shopping mall is crammed with stores that stock anime goods. There are countless specialized branches of the popular Mandarake store. You will get cool items such as costumes, toys, and gadgets. 

Pokemon Stores and Pokemon Centers

They specialize in all kinds of Pokemon items like games, toys, stationery, cards, and exclusive items. They have areas where you can play Pokemon cards. Tokyo has four Pokemon centers such as Skytree Town, Lalaport Tokyo-Bay shopping mall, Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City, and Nihonbashi’s Takashimaya.

DiverCity Tokyo Plaza

This entertainment, dining, and shopping complex was opened in Odaiba in 2012. The attractions featured here are inspired by the Gundam anime series.  In fact, a huge life-size Gundam statue is right outside the building.

Theme Parks

One Piece Tower

This is an indoor amusement park located below Tokyo Tower. It is themed after the One-Piece manga series which is quite popular. It offers a wide variety of games, shows, and other fascinating attractions.  The Sanrio Puroland theme park mainly targets younger children. It features the most famous creation by Sanrio—Hello Kitty. There are live shows, theaters, boat rides, and Hello Kitty’s house. Namja Town is another indoor theme park by the creator of Pacman, Namco. Namja town was renovated recently and now has various attractions and small rides. 

In the Ghibli Museum, you will find characters from Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and other Ghibli Studios films. There are also short exclusive films and special animation exhibits. 

Fujiko F. Fujio Museum

Originally called the Doraemon Museum, this museum showcases the work of Fujiko F. Fujio, a manga artist, who is the creator of the Doraemon series. In there you will find Doraemon’s original artwork, life sized characters, and a short film.

Suginami Animation Museum is found in the Suginami City Ward—a major center for anime production in Japan. It offers hands-on activities like a dubbing booth as well as a digital workshop for a chance to make your own creations.

Toei Animation Museum is nothing more than a large single exhibition room filled with numerous displays. However, it is one of the leading anime movies and series producers. Among its creations are Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball. 

Tokyo Anime Center was once located in Akihabara but was moved to the DNP Plaza basement close to the Ichigaya Station. The center hosts temporary rotating exhibitions, an event space, and a small shop for anime goods. 

Events

AnimeJapan

AnimeJapan was originally called the Tokyo International Anime Fair. It is the largest anime exhibition in the world. It is held at Tokyo Big Sight in the spring of every year. 

Comiket (Comic Market)

This is the largest comic convention in the world. It is held twice every year, in summer and in winter. 

Tokyo Night Guide

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Activities do not end when the sun sets in Tokyo. The nightlife there has something for everyone including chilling out, dining, partying, sightseeing, and much more. Here are activities that you may enjoy. At night, Tokyo becomes a city lit with bright lights. Up until 22:00, you can enjoy the view from the observation decks in tall buildings and towers.

The best observation decks include those at the Sunshine 60 in Ikebukuro, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tokyo Tower, and the Tokyo Skytree.  Additionally, some skyscrapers have restaurants at their top floors.

You can dine as you check out the breathtaking view. Although these restaurants are usually expensive, they are the better option for enjoying the night view once the observation decks are closed. For a unique experience, there are helicopter rides available—if you have the money. A boat cruise is also a good option.

Food

Dining is the most popular night activity. Whatever kind of dining establishment you are looking for, you will find it in the city; from small family restaurants, traditional izakaya to fancy Michelin restaurants. For an old-fashioned and authentic experience, Asakusa is your best option. Tokyo Station, Shiodome, and Shinjuku are known for top floor restaurants. 

Tokyo also has unique, themed restaurants. Shibuya has a prison-themed one, Shinjuku has a gothic church-themed one and Akasaka has a ninja-themed one. 

Theme Parks and Museums

Generally, museums cannot be considered night destinations because they close early. However, you can still find aquariums and museums that do not close until a little later. They include: Sunshine International Aquarium, Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa, Sumida Aquarium and Mori Museum. 

DisneySea and Disneyland close at around 22:00.

Nightlife Districts

The best districts for nightlife in Tokyo are Roppongi, Ginza, Shibuya and Shinjuku. 

Kabukicho in Shinjuku is the biggest red-light district in Japan. There are literally hundreds of massage parlors, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and hostess clubs. Although the district can be considered safe, you will occasionally bump into adult posters and shops. Shibuya is favorite for the younger audience. There are restaurants, dance lounges, bars, and nightclubs.

Ginza is a high-end district with chic nightclubs and bars, fine restaurants, and upscale hostess and host bars. Several establishments here are exclusive. Roppongi is more welcoming to foreigners. The restaurants, bars and nightclubs are easily accessible to tourists. It is generally safe but recently there have been rising cases of bad practices and vice.

Night Walk

Taking a stroll in the evening is a simple yet awesome way to experience the night in Tokyo. Sensoji Temple is a great place to visit at night. You will love the dimly illuminated lanterns.

For a quiet experience, consider Odaiba’s waterfront area. 

Onsen

Hot spring establishments are common in Tokyo. They offer entertainment, dining, relaxation, and baths. They are more like onsen theme parks. 

Other Entertainment

Tokyo has countless theater venues and concert halls where you can catch all kinds of shows. You can enjoy every genre of art festivals, drama, recitals, and concerts. Other things you can enjoy including winter illuminations and shopping.

The Best Hostels in Tokyo

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Tokyo is a very expensive city. But you can still get affordable hostels. The hostels reflect Tokyo in cleanliness, charm, and art. Many of them will have Wi-Fi and cooking facilities. Generally, you will pay between 2000 and 5000 JPY for a bed per night. There are hostels for all kinds of people—those that want a peaceful time and the party animals. As you plan your trip, check out the following hostels that are some of the best in Tokyo. 

Khaosan Tokyo Origami

Located in Asakusa, this hostel is only a few minutes’ walk from Asakusa station and Senso-ji Temple. It is a clean facility with air-conditioning. You will enjoy comfy beds and spacious rooms. There are also privacy curtains. There is a common lounge with lots of free tea and coffee. The kitchen is available for use 24/7. Beds range from $29/3200 JPY and privates form $80/8800 JPY.

Sheena and Ippei

This hostel is small and is in downtown Tokyo just close to Ikebukuro station. It features unique décor and is quite homey. There is a refrigerator and microwave but no kitchen. Beds are from $37/4104 JPY and private from $138/15120 JPY.

Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo

It is near the Skytree station and is a family-run hostel. The dorms are well-equipped and modern. You will enjoy a beautiful view of Sumida River.

Beda are from $36/3900 JPY and privates from $84/9200.

Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki

Enjoy clean, comfy rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The hostel is a minute walk to Senso-ji gates.

Beds are from $25/2700 JPY and privates from $116/12750.

Hostel Bedgasm

It has a lively bar where you can meet fellow travelers. It offers a rooftop patio area and common kitchen.

Beds are from $32/3500 JPY and privates from $77/8500 JPY.

Kaisu Hostel

This hostel is a little expensive because it is fancier than other hostels.

Beds are from $39/4300 JPY.

Backpackers Hostel K’s House Tokyo

You will enjoy a beautiful, sunny common area. There is also a full kitchen.

Beds are from $26/2900 JPY and privates from $42/4600.

Unplan Kagurazaka 

This hostel is relatively new and is quite stylish and clean.

Beds are from $38/4200 JPY and privates are from $168/18500 JPY.

CITAN Hostel

There is a great kitchen and relaxed common area. It is in a peaceful neighborhood. 

Beds are from $27/3000 JPY and privates from $82/9000 JPY.

Space Hostel Tokyo

The best thing about this hostel is the rooftop lounge and comfy beds. It also offers several exciting events.

Beds are from $25/2700 JPY and privates from $120/13200 JPY.

Book and Bed Tokyo

This is both a hostel and a bookstore. It is peaceful and unique.

Beds are from $35/3800 JPY.

Hostel & Café East57

This hostel has multiple beds and rooms. You will get a laundry room and Wi-Fi as well. Beds are from $20/2200 JPY.

IRORI Hostel & Kitchen

This one offers lots of equipped kitchen spaces. 

Beds are from $27/3000 JPY.

Tokyo travel guide – introduction

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Traveling to a foreign country is adventurous, more so when you are doing it with children. A lot is involved, including safety concerns and logistics. Because of this, you should be perceptive when choosing destinations so your trip can be both easy and safe. Japan is an awesome holiday destination.

The difference in culture will broaden the horizons for your kids. Besides, it is one of the safest countries in the world. The following tips will help you get a fantastic experience from your trip. Japan has a very low crime rate such that subway graffiti will make front-page news. Another thing, it is a cash economy. ATM machines are countable and not many vendors will take credit cards.

Anyway, feel free to carry cash without fear of robbers and abduction. Unlike in Europe and North America, Japan has very few traffic signs, guard rails, and other things meant to prevent the occurrence of accidental injuries. Since there is a low crime rate, spend less energy guarding your wallet and more watching your kids. Be careful where there are potential hazards.

Signs are in Japanese writing (kanji). You will notice that some streets do not have names and building numbers are not in geographical order; they are in chronological order. Never leave your hotel without a map and. To be on the safe side, plan your routes in advance. Also, make a sketch of the main kanji you will require for your trip—station or city names. When in populated areas such as public transport, you can easily lose one or two family members in the crowds. always keep hands on each other, especially when moving.

Sexual media is all over in Japan—posters, vending machines, comic books, and even daily papers. In many towns, you may come across a giant statue of a vagina or penis. This is a fertility shrine. Do not let them ruin your family trip. Be ready to answer whatever questions your young ones may have concerning the topic. This is not something that should stop you from enjoying the Land of the Rising Sun. Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s are prominent in Japan.

Do not be tempted to let your kids eat American fast foods—even for one meal. It is not a good idea. Instead, visit yakitori restaurants, sushi shops and local food stalls. Japan has quite the diverse cuisine. You will miss out on so much if you do not try most of it.

Your family may not like it all but at least you will have stories to tell for years to come. English is taught in many schools, but many Japanese are not quite fluent. Your pocket dictionary will help with important phrases.

You can always point at a phrase and allow the locals to help you. When planning your trip to Japan, you should have an idea of what you should or shouldn’t do. This amazing country is a culturally interesting destination. Its history is both rich and intriguing.

Additionally, the society is bound by rules of behavior. This is necessary because of the huge population. A set of rules is required to hold together the society’s moral fabric. 

Do not litter

The Japanese are recycling fanatics. Rubbish bins are rare. In fact, there is such a thing as rubbish shaming. 

Try pachinko

This is an illegal way to gamble. If you are not into this, then just find a pachinko parlor and enjoy the color and noise. 

Have an onsen

Make sure you read the rules first. 

Try Japanese food

Japanese food includes okonomiyaki, Miso soup and, of course, sushi. 

Learn Japanese phrases

If you are visiting a foreign country, it is nice to know a few phrases such as how to say, ‘thank you’.

Embrace the inner Hello Kitty in you

The Japanese are obsessed with cute. Try and find out why.

Enter a drinking competition

You will lose in a beer or sake drinking competition with the Japanese. 

Drinking sake in Japan

Drinking sake involves a few rituals in Japan. Sake may be smooth, but it kicks. 

Go to karaoke

In Japan, all booths are private. It is a good opportunity to make a fool of yourself.

Acquire a Suica card

This is an e-card that you can use to buy goods and pay for train rides. It simplifies things.

Eat at train stations and at a convenience store

In train stations and convenience stores, you will find fresh food. They change it every two hours.

Take off your shoes

Outside Tokyo, you may be required to take off your shoes while entering a restaurant or house. 

Japanese toilets

Have fun with the buttons in the toilets. You may get an unexpected wash, but it is still fun.

The vending machines

Vending machines are convenient for the large population. 

Slurp and burp

Slurping means you are enjoying your noodles. Go at it.

Do not finish your meal or drink

This implies that you are not satisfied and is considered offensive to the hosts.

Do not tip

No one will expect you to tip them. It is almost insulting.

Cell phone

Feel free to use your phone but not for calls on trains. Keeping quiet is considered respectful. 

Stay in a Ryokan

This is a traditional inn. It has tatami floors and is owned by locals. 

Do not eat or drink while walking

This is bad manners in Japan.

Explore Tokyo

Be sure to check out this big city. You will come across anime and manga characters. 

Punctuality

Being on time is crucial. The Japanese expect punctuality, always.

Eat at KFC on Christmas

This is one of the few places where you will get turkey.

Carry your business card

Exchanging cards is part of etiquette.

Do not blow your nose

You can sniff, just don’t blow.

Japan Issues Licenses for 11 Bitcoin Exchanges

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Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has issued operating licenses to 11 bitcoin exchanges, the regulator announced today.

This follows an amendment to the payment services law, which stated that all cryptocurrency exchanges should register with authorities by the end of September.

Passed in April, the new law established bitcoin as a legal payment method, and extrapolated security guidelines for cryptocurrency exchanges.

The licensing enforces certain operational requirements for the exchanges, including high standards for cybersecurity, the segregation of customer accounts and the verification of customer identities.

Seventeen applications are still in review, while 12 firms have closed their doors in light of the new regulations.

Local cryptocurrency exchange Quoine – one of the 11 firms to receive a license – said in a press release that it will work alongside regulators “towards the healthy development of the cryptocurrency industry within Japan and on a global scale.”

An FSA executive said earlier this week that it intended to foster “sound market development” by working with the exchanges.

Japan is uniquely proactive in its cryptocurrency regulations. Lawmakers have previously stated that this was driven by the now-notorious collapse of local bitcoin exchange Mt Gox in 2014, which led to the loss of millions of dollars in customer funds.

The news comes at a time of regulatory shifts in the broader cryptocurrency landscape. Earlier this month, China issued a blanket ban on fundraising methods involving token sales, or initial coin offerings (ICOs), and local cryptocurrency exchanges have indicated they will cease domestic trading following the ban.

South Korea has also stated ICOs are illegal as of today, as well as tightening the rules for exchanges.

Source:

https://www.coindesk.com/japans-finance-regulator-issues-licenses-for-11-bitcoin-exchanges/

Amelia Earhart’s disappearance may finally be explained with one photo

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Ever since Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on their around-the-world flight on July 2, 1937, what happened to the two has been one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 20th Century.

A recently discovered photograph from the U.S. Government archives may actually provide an answer to all the speculation that has circled the case and HISTORY will present the evidence in a two-hour special Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence on Sunday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The photo taken on Jaluit Atoll and uncovered by Former US Treasury Agent Les Kinney, who has been searching for an answer for 15 years as to what happened to Earhart, was filed away because it was considered to be a picture of Japanese movements in the Marshall Islands. No one guessed that it might provide a clue as to Earhart’s fate.

But if you look closely, you can see a Caucasian woman sitting on the dock with her back to the photographer, and to her far left is a man who very much resembles Noonan. The person who took the photograph is believed to have later been executed as a spy.

If that is Earhart and Noonan, it would mean they survived the crash. Of course, that raises more questions about what happened to them after their her rescue.

 

In Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, Former FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry investigates evidence that Earhart survived her final flight, crash-landed in the Marshall Islands, and was captured by the Japanese military – dying in their custody on Saipan — and why there may have been a cover up.

The first step for Henry was to determine if the photograph is possibly Earhart and Noonan, and toward that end, he enlists the aid of photo recognition expert Kent Gibson, who rated the photo “very likely” to be Earhart and Noonan.

“When you pull out, and when you see the analysis that’s been done, I think it leaves no doubt to the viewers that that’s Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan,” Henry told NBC News.

Additionally, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence” presents evidence verified by some of the most reputable professionals in the world including: plane parts found in an uninhabited island of the Marshall Islands by Earhart Investigator Dick Spink consistent with the aircraft that Earhart was flying in 1937; and an original interview with the last living eyewitness who claims to have seen Earhart and Noonan after their crash.

Will the 80-year-old mystery be solved? Tune in when Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence premieres Sunday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HISTORY and form your own opinion.

Source:

https://parade.com/584296/paulettecohn/has-the-mystery-of-amelia-earharts-disappearance-finally-been-solved/

Japan’s population is falling faster than it ever has before

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Japan’s population fell at the beginning of this year at the fastest pace since 1968, when the earliest comparable figures started getting collected.

As of January 1, the number of Japanese people (excluding resident foreigners) fell by a record 308,084 from a year earlier to 125,583,658, marking the eighth consecutive year of declines, government data showed Wednesday.

These changes highlight a mounting demographic challenge to Japan’s economic growth that has been roughly two decades in the making. Some economists even call the situation a “demographic time bomb,”given the vicious cycle that has formed between low fertility rates and low consumer spending.

The conflict lies in the tension between Japan’s traditional work culture — which emphasizes the role of men as primary breadwinners — and younger generations’ desire to have flexibility in their personal and professional lives.

Younger people increasingly want more egalitarian relationships in which men and women can both pursue their careers and share household duties. But career pursuits have won the battle for the last decade or so, while starting or growing families has taken a backseat on a mass scale.

 

The number of births in Japan fell 2.9% from the previous year to 981,202 today, the lowest since comparable data became available in 1974. People at or above the age of 65 account for 27.2% of the total population, the highest ratio on record, while those 14 or younger make up just 12.7%, the data showed.

The number of registered foreign residents in Japan increased 6.9% from a year earlier, according to the data. Japan has long been reluctant to open up to immigration, since many Japanese people pride themselves on what they see as their cultural and ethnic homogeneity.

But recently, the government has been increasing its efforts to attract students and high-skilled workers from overseas.

The overall population, which combines both Japanese and resident foreigners, fell 0.1% from a year ago to 127,907,086, the data showed.

Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/japans-population-falling-faster-than-ever-before-2017-7

Desperately short of labor, mid-sized Japanese firms plan to buy robots

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Desperate to overcome Japan’s growing shortage of labor, mid-sized companies are planning to buy robots and other equipment to automate a wide range of tasks, including manufacturing, earthmoving and hotel room service.

According to a Bank of Japan survey, companies with share capital of 100 million yen to 1 billion yen plan to boost investment in the fiscal year that started in April by 17.5 percent, the highest level on record.

It is unclear how much of that is being spent on automation but companies selling such equipment say their order books are growing and the Japanese government says it sees a larger proportion of investment being dedicated to increasing efficiency. Revenue at many of Japan’s robot makers also rose in the January-March period for the first time in several quarters.

“The share of capital expenditure devoted to becoming more efficient is increasing because of the shortage of workers,” said Seiichiro Inoue, a director in the industrial policy bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, or METI.

If the investment ambitions are fulfilled it would show there is a silver lining as Japan tries to cope with a shrinking and rapidly aging population. It could help equipment-makers, lift the country’s low productivity and boost economic growth.

The government predicts investment in labor-saving equipment will rise this fiscal year, Inoue said.

The way Japan copes with an aging population will provide critical lessons for other aging societies, including China and South Korea, that will have to grapple with similar challenges in coming years.

“More than 90 percent of Japan’s companies are small- and medium-sized, but most of these companies are not using robots,” said Yasuhiko Hashimoto, who works in Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd’s (7012.T) robot division. “We’re coming up with a lot of applications and product packages to target these companies.”

Among those products is a two-armed, 170-centimeter (5-foot-7) tall robot. Kawasaki says it is selling well because it can be adapted to a range of industrial uses by electronics makers, food processors and drug companies.

Hitachi Construction Machinery (6305.T) says it is getting a lot of enquiries for its computer-programmed digging machines that use a global positioning system to hew ditches that are accurate to within centimeters and can cut digging time by about half.

“We focus on rentals and expect business to pick up in the second half of the fiscal year, which is when most companies tend to order construction equipment for projects,” said Yoshi Furuno, a company official. Hitachi Construction declined to provide figures.

Mid-sized companies are planning on increasing spending much more than large-caps, which are projecting just a 0.6 percent increase in the fiscal year, according to the Bank of Japan. Smaller companies tend to have less flexibility in overcoming labor shortages by paying workers more or by moving production overseas.

WORKING POPULATION PLUNGING

Some companies could end up spending less than originally planned. But with demographics only worsening, companies will need to continue to search for solutions to the labor shortage problem. Japan’s working-age population peaked in 1995 at 87 million and has been falling ever since. The government expects it to fall to 76 million this year and to 45 million by 2065.

In the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2016, mid-sized companies with 100 to 499 workers advertised to fill 1.1 million new positions, the highest in five years and almost five times the number of open positions at companies with 500 workers or more, Labor Ministry data show.

Among the robot makers to report stronger revenue in the last quarter was Fanuc Corp (6954.T). Its revenue was 7.9 percent higher than a year earlier, the first increase in seven quarters.

Source:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-economy-capex-analysis-idUSKCN18B01Z

Entrepreneur taps Skype, tablets to offer sign language service across Japan

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Imagine you’re a hearing impaired person who wants to hire a sign language interpreter. The process is antiquated and lengthy. You have to send a fax to a local municipal government to make a reservation two weeks in advance, and officials then look for an interpreter whose schedule matches yours. Once they find one, you’ll get a reply by fax.

Under this system, it is impossible to get an interpreter right away to deal with urgent matters.

But Junto Ohki, a young entrepreneur, has not only relieved many people of such anxieties, but also helped change the widespread belief that sign language interpreting is something that should be provided by the public sector as welfare.

Ohki founded his company, ShuR Co., when he was a sophomore at Keio University in 2008. The company now runs a Skype-based sign language interpreting business. ShuR also created the world’s first online sign language dictionary called SLinto.

With ShuR, users can call the company, based in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, from anywhere to ask to use the service.

“I was studying IT business (at university). Though Skype wasn’t that popular at that time, I thought if we use this technology, we can remotely provide sign language interpretation for people with hearing disabilities without actually dispatching interpreters,” Ohki said in a recent interview with The Japan Times. “With this, I thought I could solve many problems that my friends with hearing disabilities encountered in their lives.”

With ShuR’s service, hearing impaired people can see a doctor when they get sick or enjoy simple things like shopping.

The 29-year-old Gunma native still remembers clearly when his company offered free sign language interpretation as a trial run in 2012. As an interpreter himself, Ohki took a Skype call from an elderly man who asked, “Is it true that if I make a phone call, sushi will be delivered to my house?”

The man, who had a hearing disability, knew about such delivery services but had been unable to use a phone himself.

“Yes it’s true,” Ohki said in sign language, going on to order sushi for the man.

Twenty minutes later, Ohki received a call from the same man. When he took the call, the first thing that appeared on the screen was a plate of sushi. The man then appeared with a big smile. “What you said was true. Sushi arrived!” he told Ohki.

This kind of experience became a driving force for Ohki to develop the service further.

Ohki’s firm does not charge individual users. Instead, it sells the service to corporations that see the need for better communication with customers and employees, including those with hearing disabilities.

But it was tough to make companies understand why they should pay for the service, Ohki said.

“Most people think that sign language belongs to the field of welfare, and interpretation should be done by volunteers,” he said.

It took some time for Ohki to convince businesses that they would benefit from the service.

But thanks to his efforts, firms like JR East and Kao Corp. use ShuR’s services. For example, customers can use tablets at JR train stations connected to ShuR’s interpreters to ask how to buy a ticket or for directions.

“They were already offering multilingual services, so it was just like adding another menu item to accommodate the hearing impaired,” Ohki said.

Meanwhile, cosmetics and household goods manufacturer Kao’s customer centers use the service to respond to various questions from customers about their products.

About 400 establishments nationwide, including hospitals, shopping centers and customer support centers, are now equipped with tablets connected to the interpreters. Some companies also use the service to have internal meetings with employees who have hearing disabilities, Ohki said.

Until he started university, Ohki, who is not hearing impaired himself, had no experience with sign language or people with hearing disabilities. The only time he saw sign language was on an NHK program when he was a junior high school student.

An avid photographer, in high school he dreamed of becoming a photojournalist who reports from war zones. He even went to the United States to study English, hoping that acquiring photography and language skills would lead to becoming a journalist. While he was chosen as a finalist in a nationwide photo contest for high school students, he didn’t take the top prize. The loss prompted him to rethink his career goals and diversify his areas of study at university.

At Keio University, an old memory came back that would set him on a new course. He remembered the vivid impression from the sign language he saw on NHK and how he thought it was such a beautiful language. Though he wanted to join a sign language club, there was no such club at his university. In the summer of his first year, a female friend asked him to create a sign language club with her.

The pair, who were truly beginners of the language, founded the club and started learning to sign.

Three months later, he was asked through an acquaintance to appear on NHK’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Year-end Song Festival“) program. Popular singer Yo Hitoto, a Keio University graduate scheduled to sing on the program, was looking for someone who could perform her song’s lyrics in sign language, and Ohki’s newly established club was called in.

“I don’t think she knew we had only studied sign language for three months. But when I was asked to join her, I recklessly said, ‘Yes, we can do it,’ ” Ohki said with a smile.

After intensive training, Ohki and his club mates made a successful debut on NHK’s popular year-end program.

Being part of that show had a tremendous ripple effect. The club was invited to many places across Japan to demonstrate and teach sign language. TV stations and newspapers interviewed him and other club members.

“I thought about the reason why we captured media attention and I came to the conclusion that there weren’t enough entertainment programs for the hearing impaired,” Ohki said.

Ohki then began creating an online travel program with hearing impaired people. As they traveled together for the program, he discovered how difficult the life of people with disabilities could be.

“They can’t even call an ambulance or go to see a doctor because they can’t talk even if they get sick,” he said, adding that learning about their lives led him to establish his company in his second year of university.

As for the online dictionary SLinto, Ohki said the database, accessible to anyone, aims to make the process of learning sign language easier.

“When I was studying sign language, I had a hard time finding the meaning of signs,” Ohki said. “You can Google the word ‘dog’ if you want to know how to say it in sign language, but when you see a hand motion for a specific word, you can’t look up what it means. It’s like having a Japanese-to-English dictionary, but not having an English-to-Japanese dictionary.”

Using a special keyboard displayed on a computer screen, users of SLinto can choose a hand motion for a sign, such as placing an index finger in front of the stomach, and then various video clips similar to those movements will appear. Users then look for the motion they want to know about from among the video clips.

Ohki said they were currently developing an American version of the dictionary and discussing how to promote it in the U.S., which has a huge sign language-related market. The free service generates revenue from ads displayed at the bottom of the screen, he said. He has already acquired a patent for the special on-screen keyboard.

“There aren’t many services that originated in Japan that have spread around the world,” he said. “I would like to make ShuR’s service the world standard for sign language.”

Now, Ohki is looking ahead to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. “More and more people with hearing disabilities from overseas will be visiting Japan for the Olympics,” he said. “I would like to create an environment where such people can stay in Japan comfortably without feeling insecure about what to do if they get sick.”

Source:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/08/national/entrepreneur-taps-skype-tablets-offer-sign-language-service-across-japan/#.WRBpJUXyvcs

Check out this newly designed interactive restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

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Art collective teamlab has created an immersive interactive restaurant in Tokyo’s ginza district. the exclusive eatery, which serves just eight guests per day, provides diners with a unique multi-sensory experience that conveys the tastes, smells, and scenic beauty of japan. the immersive space combines elegant cuisine and ceramic art with real-time projections that canvas the restaurant’s walls and tables.

Located inside ‘saga beef restaurant SAGAYA ginza‘, teamlab’s new installation is titled ‘worlds unleashed and then connecting’. ‘when a dish is placed on the table, the scenic world contained within the dish is unleashed, unfolding onto the table and into the surrounding space,’ say the designers. ‘for example, a bird painted on a ceramic dish is released from the dish and can perch on the branch of a tree that has been unleashed from a different dish.’

The sizes and shapes of the projected objects are also affected by the other dishes on the table. this creates an environment of constant change, designed to reflect japan’s changing seasons. furthermore, the projections are influenced by the diners’ behavior. ‘if you are still, a tiny bird might alight on your hand; if you move suddenly, it might fly away,’ explains teamlab. the restaurant’s menu and presentation, which changes monthly, includes a 12-course meal with dishes including black wagyu beef and seasonal vegetables.

 

Tsubasa Watanabe: Model mixes punk with fashion on the runways of New York

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At her first test shoot in Los Angeles, Tsubasa Watanabe was surprised by the outfit the photographer was asking her to wear: Hanging from the fingers of his outstretched hand was a pair of thong underwear.

“This is the outfit?” she asked.

“Yup,” he answered.

“Ok,” she said. “Let me change.” She walked into the bathroom and gathered her thoughts.

At this point, Watanabe had been modeling for several years in Japan after walking into an agency in Nagoya in high school, so she definitely had runway experience. But belying her striking looks, she’d grown up in rural Japan in a very traditional family and was accustomed to wearing a little more clothing, even on the runways.

She debated calling her agency and wasn’t sure she should do the job. Maybe the photographer was trying to take advantage of her, maybe he thought she wouldn’t say no because she was Japanese. “This is a test,” she told herself.

When she danced her way out of the bathroom in the thong with a smile on her face, the photographer laughed and started taking pictures, which set the atmosphere at ease. “You’re good!” he said.

This was in 2005. Watanabe is now a veteran model with years of experience in New York City: She has in all likelihood walked more seasons outside of Japan than any other Japanese model in history. Her success has been the result of steadfast focus, flexibility within a foreign culture and a refusal to accept setbacks.

Watanabe was born and raised in Shirakawa, a small town of 9,000 nestled between rivers in the Japanese alps of Gifu Prefecture. She played classical piano from the age of 4 until the end of junior high school when she was not accepted into a music high school.

Even then music was a significant part of her life: She discovered J-rock and the Beatles, played in a rock band that covered power pop songs and decorated the walls of her bedroom with punk rock posters. She was somewhat of a tomboy and dressed in goth fashion. All the while, she shot up to nearly 180 centimeters in height, was naturally thin and had large eyes beneath beautifully angled eyebrows.

“My friends in high school were like, ‘Why aren’t you modeling?’” she says, but it just hadn’t occurred to her before.

Little by little, however, the fashion world began to seep into her everyday life, even as isolated as she was. She found the magazine “Mode et Mode” at a small bookstore in town and discovered the striking fashion of Alexander McQueen. When she later saw Betsey Johnson incorporate punk girls into her high fashion runway shows, she remembers thinking, “This is it!”

All she could focus on from that point onward was how to access that world.

After walking into an agency in 2002, Watanabe was soon commuting three hours one way to go to lessons and casting calls in Nagoya. Her teacher, a former model, drilled Watanabe and her classmates for hours on how to walk.

The work paid off, and she was booking jobs in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya. When she finished high school she faced a decision that most rural Japanese graduates would never even consider: Should she move to Tokyo or to Los Angeles?

Despite a contract offer from an agency in Tokyo, Watanabe chose LA because of inspiration from Riff Randell, the Ramones-obsessed female lead of the movie “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.”

In Los Angeles, Watanabe heard many Japanese complain about the inconvenience of living in the U.S., but it felt easy to her. “Even going to the supermarket (in Shirakawa) was so far,” she says. “LA to me was convenient.” She managed to get by without a car, relying on public transportation and walking.

A year later she moved to New York and had castings right away, quickly getting set up in her new hometown.

Watanabe purposely set herself apart from others in the Japanese community, not just other models. “I wanted to learn American culture,” she says. “I didn’t want to be an outsider who just follows their career, I wanted to be a local who lives here and has a job. From a certain point, modeling wasn’t my dream. It was just my job.”

Not everything has been easy. Shortly after arriving in New York, she booked a big designer’s show in Bryant Park for fashion week. The fitting the night before took nearly five hours and lasted until midnight, and she was running around the city early the next day for other castings. When she showed up to Bryant Park she posed for street photographers and was congratulated by a Japanese photographer for her newfound success.

However, when she tried to sign in at the venue, her name wasn’t listed. After some confusion, she discovered that they’d overbooked and she wasn’t needed. Dejected, Watanabe walked out past the street photographers and went home, crying the whole way.

Watanabe also misses Japan, mostly her family, the nature she was surrounded by and Shinto traditions. Her parents, both very traditional, haven’t visited her in the U.S., but they did sign up for the cable channel WOWOW when she was featured as one of the models in the second season of “Project Runway All Stars”; she’ll reprise this role for the sixth season later this year. Watanabe makes the trip home once a year or so, and she’s married an American and since made her home in New York.

The Bryant Park incident was the first and last time Watanabe let herself cry because of modeling. The setback eventually helped her learn to stay level and not take things too seriously.

Sixty percent of her work is runway-related, and the rest is e-commerce and fashion editorials. However, the runway is what really motivates her. “Of course, we walk the runway to show the clothes, but to me it’s a performance,” she says. “When I hear the beats backstage right before the show starts, that’s when I come alive.”

Her work has given her the freedom to pursue her passion for music in her free time, but she has settled down a little from her punk days and is working on soundtrack projects.

Watanabe used to dream at night of being back at her home in Gifu with her family. Her New York dreams were nightmares in which she was lost, wandering the unfamiliar city. “Recently I had a dream that I was in my apartment in New York,” she says. “This means a lot to me.”

Source:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/04/22/people/tsubasa-watanabe-model-mixes-punk-fashion-runways-new-york/#.WP5o0NLyvcs

Things to Do at This Flower Park in Japan This Wisteria Blooming Season

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Booking a flight to Japan can be challenging for those who want to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms during springtime. Some might be lucky enough to get a flight in early to mid-April, just in time for sakura, but there are those who settle for late April to early May. But don’t worry if you miss sakura season, there are still other flowers to see in Japan!

One of the best places to see some of the most beautiful flowers in the country is Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク), which is located in Ashikaga City (足利市), Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県). It’s home to a variety of flowers, with wisteria, or fuji (藤) in Japanese, being its main attraction. The park is beautiful and worth visiting either day or night. Here are three things to do there during the bloom of wisteria!

From mid-April to mid-May, you can witness four varieties of wisteria in full bloom — the famous 1,000-square-meter great wisteria trellis, the cherry blossom-colored pale red wisteria, the 80-meter long white wisteria tunnel, and the 80-meter long Kibana wisteria tunnel (which is the only one in Japan).

Apart from those, Ashikaga Flower Park has many other flowers for you to appreciate like petunia, rose, and azalea. All you need to do is to look around and discover them for yourself!

The oldest wisteria tree around the world is located in Ashikaga Flower Park. It’s not difficult to find since it’s the center of the great wisteria trellis. However, there’s a fence around it so you can’t go near it, but the distance is enough to see its beauty.

If you’ve brought a bento (packed lunch) with you, there are chairs and tables nearby for you to enjoy a meal with this beautiful scenery.

Take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line (湘南新宿線), the JR Utsunomiya Line (宇都宮線), or the JR Tohoku Shinkansen line (東北新幹線) from Tokyo Station (東京駅) to Oyama Station (小山駅). Get off and transfer to the JR Ryomo Line (両毛線) where you should alight at Tomita Station (富田駅), the station before Ashikaga Station (足利駅). From there, you need to walk for about 13 minutes.

Don’t worry about getting lost because, during the full bloom of wisterias, you’ll see many people going there as well. Follow the crowd and you’ll get there soon. Moreover, there are signs and street officers around the area to help you.

If you get hungry, there are stalls near the station that sell food and other items. Along the way, you’ll also encounter people selling hats so you won’t feel too hot while walking.

If you’re visiting Japan, let me assure you that a trip to Ashikaga Flower Park is something you shouldn’t miss regardless of the season! It’s a great experience to appreciate nature, especially different flowers in their full bloom.

Source:

http://jpninfo.com/71781

Japan fashion’s tough road to international success

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TOKYO (AFP) – He’s been hailed a “fresh new voice” by Vogue, won admiration from Giorgio Armani and bagged an award: Mitsuru Nishizaki is hot fashion talent in Japan. But that doesn’t guarantee international stardom.

Loud applause and uncharacteristic cheers erupted from the usually restrained Japanese fashion crowd at the 38-year-old’s packed autumn/winter 2017 collection for brand Ujoh at Tokyo Fashion Week.

The models strode out to upbeat techno tempo, tearing up a multi-lane catwalk in a high-energy show starring preppy-grunge, sporty-tailored chic that would not look out of place in New York.

 

It was eminently wearable with bright high-necked ribbed sweaters slashed at the side, a deconstructed pale pink trench coat and crisp shirts that button front and back to be styled how the wearer desires.

Shoes were trainer-meets-loafer – black with white soles and a yellow serrated grip, which he calls shark soles, worn with gypsy-style skirts, pin-stripped suits or slouchy velvet track bottoms.

 
 

Nishizaki set up Ujoh in 2009 after seven years as a Yohji Yamamoto pattern cutter. Six years later he won a design award sponsored by DHL and then in 2016 staged a show in Milan.

Armani provided his theatre for the venue, though Nishizaki didn’t meet the veteran Italian designer in person. Vogue wrote afterwards: “this is how cool girls dress now” and predicted a bright future for him.

But what does it take to make it outside Japan? To follow in the footsteps of Issey Miyake, Yamamoto – Nishizaki’s former boss – and Rei Kawakubo, 20th century masters who have flown the nest to take their place among the greats in the fashion pantheon of Paris?

What are the hurdles that need to be overcome in a country where the fashion industry is embedded in exacting standards of tailoring, where creativity at times can take a back seat to doing it the right way?

Ujoh is already stocked in more than a dozen foreign cities such as Barcelona, New York and Seoul. Still, Nishizaki’s chief ambition is to expand further abroad.

But it’s a tough road to take domestic success to the next level.

In an interview at his showroom in Omotesando, a chic neighbourhood heaving with high-fashion boutiques, he was polite and earnest, but also shy and nervous behind the wide brim of a black floppy hat.

Nishizaki appears reluctant to present a compelling personal narrative in the rags-to-riches or fashion-ruled-my-childhood style that has helped many celebrated US designers market pret-a-porter to a mass audience.

When it comes to his collections, he says he works in the style to which he became accustomed at Yamamoto: having an open mind and designing freely without pre-selecting a particular inspiration.

“It is a difficult question to answer and I wish you could give me some ideas,” Nishizaki ventured when asked if he thought it was harder to break through as a designer from Japan than from Europe or America.

But he does admit that the Japanese calendar is stacked against quick success on the international circuit.

Tokyo’s bi-annual style fest in March and October comes several weeks after the main fashion merry-go-round in New York, London, Milan and Paris comes to an end.

By then most international editors and buyers are too exhausted and saturated to board a long-haul flight to Tokyo.

“What I really should do now is rearrange my brand schedule for press and sales not only in Japan but overseas,” Nishizaki said.

Misha Janette, a Tokyo-based stylist, creative director and blogger who has lived in Japan since 2004, said a major challenge for many Japanese designers trying to cut it in the West are different tastes.

She summed up the Japanese market as conservative and casual, rather than expensive and high fashion, warning that simple clothes were “not going to sell” in Paris.

“I think the most important thing is to have a balance of show pieces, interesting things that show their viewpoint with simple off the rack to satisfy both. That’s hard,” she told AFP.

“Most Japanese brands don’t have the investment, it’s just girls and boys doing it alone out of their garage,” she said. “Instead of having this balance of show pieces and wearable pieces it becomes either or.”

Source:

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/japan-fashions-tough-road-to-international-success

Forgotten Tale Of Japan’s First Black Samurai Bound For The Big Screen

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There is very little recorded history on Yasuke, the young African man believed to be Japan’s first black samurai, but his story may soon be told on the silver screen.

Lionsgate has asked screenwriter Gregory Wilden, the creator of the 1986 film “Highlander,” to write a script for an action drama based on Yasuke’s centuries-old story, according to the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

 

The Lionsgate film “is based on the true story of an African whose journey to Japan comes with conflicting background stories,” Widen told Deadline last week. “The one I’ve chosen is that he was a slave soldier after the fall of Abysinnian Bengal, a black kingdom run by Ethiopians.”

 

In that story, Yasuke was sold into slavery and “found himself in the care of Alessandro Valignano, an Italian missionary,” Widen explained.  “They formed a bond, and when there were complications in Rome, he was sent to Japan and took Yasuke with him,” he added.

 

Yasuke was an African slave in his early 20s when Valignano brought him on a missionary trip to Japan in 1579, according to historical accounts that Oxy reviewed. He stood out there because of his tall stature and dark skin and he soon became a local celebrity. His real name is unknown, but locals called him Yasuke in Japan ― likely a Japanese version of his birth name.

 

When Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga learned of Yasuke and his impressive strength, he hired the young African as a feudal bodyguard. Under Nobunaga, Yasuke quickly rose in the ranks to become a well-respected samurai warrior who spoke fluent Japanese.

“They presented him with a blade, and he went to work,” Widen told Deadline. 

 

Parts of Yasuke’s story lived on in a 1916 Japanese children’s book called Kuro-suke, about a young, black samurai who often dreams of his parents in Africa.

Mike De Luca and Stephen L’Heureux are co-producing the film, which is currently called “Black Samurai.” Lionsgate has not released any other information about the film and the media distributor did not immediately return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

 

Source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-samurai-japan-lionsgate_us_58dae1e6e4b0cb23e65c5319

Where to Find Japanese Kawaii Fashion: Shop In Wonderland

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NESTLED ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF A SHOPPING CENTER in Bellaire is Shop In Wonderland, that most unexpected and fantastical shop within a coterie of Asian retail outlets, bakeries and restaurants. This is Houston’s darling home of Japanese Lolita fashion, a boutique so precious I found myself oohing and ahhing aloud as I took in the styles on display. Doll-inspired dresses filled the room, some embellished with a delicate lace trim and others were made up of ornate patterns. Each piece reminded me of a different fairytale. I fell down the rabbit hole.

Lolita is an iconic and cultural style that emerged from Japanese street fashion. The clothes typically embody the aesthetic of a doll. Much of it is hyper-feminine and inspired by Victorian fashion, with plenty of frills, ribbons and lace, though the vibe can range from gothic to royal-inspired. It’s not a style that Houstonians see too often on the streets. That is precisely why Deneice ‘Trinity’ Leigh opened Shop in Wonderland in 2015.

“Finding Lolita fashion has always been a severe issue for fans outside of Japan,” said shop manager Daniela Michel. “What is worse is not having the capability to feel and try on the clothing. Taking the risk of using shopping services also makes the fashion really difficult to obtain. Having a local store in the states gives U.S. residents a huge help in shopping for Lolita.”

Michel got into the Lolita look out of curiosity, but soon found that she constantly looked out for unique pieces to add to her own wardrobe. “It is a hidden quirk I have when it comes to fashion and Lolita fulfills it perfectly,” she says. Knowing that no one else has the same pieces created an exciting sense of individualism, which is precisely what Lolita fashion is about.

The boutique acquires all of their dresses directly from Japan. They currently carry brands such as Angelic Pretty, Metamorphose, Atelier Boz, Putumayo and Triple Fortune, ranging in price anywhere from about $100 up to $500 or more. To attract new and aspiring Lolitas, the boutique hosts monthly workshops, holiday events and most recently an end-of-the-year tea party to bring the entire Houston-based Lolita community together. 

“Houston is home to many aspiring and old school Lolitas [and] also possesses many who love Japanese culture,” Michel says. “It may not have yet reached to the level of New York or San Francisco, but plunging straight into the middle of the U.S. only proves that Lolita is far from dying.” 

Source:

https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2017/3/16/japanese-lolita-fashion-houston-shop-in-wonderland

The $7 Billion Japanese E-Tailer That’s Targeting the USA

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TOKYO, Japan — The vast differences between Japanese and American fashion consumers can be boiled down to a matter of inches. Consider this: when Japanese e-commerce behemoth Start Today first launched its social-commerce app Wear in the US in the autumn of 2016, it asked beta users to disclose their height, a strong indicator of clothing size in Japan. But Americans were confused by the query. Why would an app meant for uploading and sharing outfits require this measurement? After all, in a country where people are as physically diverse as the US, height indicates very little when it comes to fit.

“People are very homogeneous in Japan. We tend to wear the same things, the seasonal changes are similar,” says Masahiro Ito, chief executive of Start Today Engineering. “When a look trends in Japan, it trends everywhere. In the US, things are very different.”

Ito runs the development wing of the Japanese company, best known for its popular online fashion concessioner Zozotown, which claims to be the country’s largest fashion e-commerce site. The market capitalisation of Start Today, which also operates Zozoused — a second-hand clothing business — and the Zozo Flea Market, a peer-to-peer selling platform, is $7.6 billion. In its 2016 fiscal year, the company generated net sales of about $544 million, with $1.59 billion of transactions taking place on Zozotown.

Ito, who joined Start Today in 2014 after it acquired his then-14-year-old tech company, has also been tasked with making Wear viable Stateside. While Wear posts link directly to Zozotown product in Japan, thus driving sales, it is simply a social-sharing app in the US, similar to the string of now-defunct fashion apps launched in the early 2010s.

A company of our size needs to look at international growth. Wear is a great way to learn about the US market and the US consumer.

Despite attracting an active and engaged fan base, apps like Fashism, Go Try It On and Pose — which now directs users to Wear within the app — had difficulty getting many users to actually shop and generated little revenue from those who did. Start Today, however, says it’s using its American incarnation of Wear not to drive sales, but instead as a serious research tool, one that will offer insights when it does eventually expand its business beyond Japan.

“The reason we launched in the US — and we’re still in the very early stages — is because Start Today, as of right now, doesn’t have any presence there,” Ito says. “A company of our size needs to look at international growth. Wear is a great way to learn about the US market and the US consumer.”

If the height hiccup is any indication, Start Today has a lot to learn about Western consumers before it begins selling product there. However, the unique culture of the Start Today business indicates a willingness — and ability — to innovate and iterate towards success.

Start Today was founded in 1998 by former rock musician Yusaku Maezawa as a mail-order compact disc and record business; Zozotown was launched in 2004 as what Maezawa calls an “online fashion mall.” Like a department store that operates on a concession model, Zozotown does not invest in inventory, but instead takes a commission on sales from its 3,900 brands, most of which are Japanese. Its wares sit in the low-to-middle segment of the market, with prices in line with those of specialty retailers like J.Crew.

In 2013, Maezawa launched Wear as a new way to drive interest around Japanese brands, which had been supplanted by the growth of international fast-fashion players like H&M and Zara. The idea was to celebrate the idea of kikonashi — the Japanese term for how well you wear something — not necessarily to drive a tremendous volume of sales.

Given the Japanese obsession with street style, creating an online community around the concept seemed like a natural next step. “Kikonashi is something that is very difficult to portray, especially in e-commerce. It’s kind of like a mix tape, if you will,” Ito says. “Wear is a platform for the fashion hobbyist — the fashion enthusiast — to discover brands, new looks, new styles and interesting people. Unlike other social media, it’s really just focused on fashion. It’s a niche, but we think there’s great potential. It’s a service we provide. We don’t see monetisation as a main objective.” While the company declined to disclose number of active users, it said that the app has been downloaded more than 8 million times.

Start Today’s success rests, at least in part, on an unusual company culture. The company employs just over 800 people — half of which are women, uncommon in Japan — and all of which earn the same basic salary and bonus, dependent on profits, a year. The billionaire executive says that it’s about sharing the wealth. “We don’t like a competitive environment between employees, and thought this would keep it peaceful in a way,” Maezawa says.

Source:

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/the-7-billion-japanese-e-tailer-thats-targeting-the-usa

Chat app Line is developing an AI assistant and Amazon Echo-style smart speaker

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Messaging app Line is taking a leaf out of the books of Amazon, Google and others after it launched its own artificial intelligence platform.

A voice-powered concierge service called Clova — short for “Cloud Virtual Assistant” — is the centerpiece of the service, much like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant. Beyond the assistant living inside the main Line chat app, the company said it has plans to release hardware with support for Clova baked-in, as Amazon and Google have done, and work with third parties to integrate the service into additional hardware. Sony and toy maker Tomy are among the early partners it is talking to.

Also, interestingly, Line has acquired a majority stake in the Japanese company behind a ‘holographic’ AI service. Vinclu is the startup, and its Gatebox is its ‘virtual robot’ that gives AI a graphical presence in the form of manga cartoon-style female — very Japanese.

“Gatebox’s holographic home assistant is voice activated and uses a variety of sensors to interact with the device’s operator in a realistic and natural manner, while also connecting to a range of devices in the home,” Line said.

As this promotional video shows, Gatebox is painted more like a virtual companion than a gender-neutral AI assistant. That might require a different approach if the product is to ship outside of Japan, perhaps involving Brown the bear and others who star in Line’s sticker packs.

Source:

Chat app Line is developing an AI assistant and Amazon Echo-style smart speaker

Japan zoo kills 57 monkeys carrying ‘invasive alien’ genes

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A Japanese zoo has killed 57 snow monkeys, nearly one-third of the species in the facility, for carrying “invasive alien” genes, zoo officials said, adding that the animals were all crossbreeds and culling them is legally allowed.

The incident took place in Takagoyama Nature Zoo in the city of Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture, some 45km from Tokyo.

Zoo officials discovered that of 164 Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys), at least 57 were crossbreeds with rhesus macaques.

The monkeys were killed by lethal injection, a Futtsu official told AFP, adding that the zoo operator held a memorial service for the macaques at a nearby Buddhist temple.  

Snow monkey-rhesus macaque crossbreeds are considered an “invasive alien species” in Japan, the zoo operator and local officials said.

“They have to be killed to protect the indigenous environment,” another official with the Chiba prefectural government told AFP.
The zoo said that the culling was “unavoidable” and decided to take measures to prevent crossbreeding in the future, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.  

The remaining 107 Japanese macaques will be kept in the zoo, which also promised to submit all new-born monkeys to DNA testing, Chiba Nippo newspaper reported.  

According to Junkichi Mima, spokesman for conservation group WWF Japan, invasive species like rhesus macaques cause problems “because they get mixed in with indigenous animals and threaten the natural environment and ecosystem.”

“Preventing exposures to foreign animals is very important,” Tomoko Shimura of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan added.

Japan’s Environment Ministry currently allows zoos to keep such crossbreeds.

“There are many zoos in the country which rear animals that became classified as invasive species after the law was created,” a ministry official said, as cited by AFP.

Source:

https://www.rt.com/news/378137-japan-kills-alien-monkeys/

Japan’s latest mascot is a flying drone puppy

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In perhaps the first case of a robot being picked, the town of Oji in Nara, Japan, has picked a flying puppy as the area’s official mascot.

The mechanical dog, named Yukimaru Skywalker, has made his flying debut in a promotional video as he floats past attractions including the Yamato River, Mount Myolin, Mount Akishi, the Eternal Bell, and Daruma Temple.

The pup is powered by a quadcopter and while in motion, moved its paw

In one video, Yukimaru passes the spot where the drone’s namesake a white dog called Yukimaru, is buried. The dog belonged to ruler Prince Shotoku (574-622), a member of the imperial clan who created Japan’s first constitution for political affairs and was said to be the politician’s beloved pet.

According to legend, Prince Shotoku assisted a beggar he found by the roadside by offering him food and drink.

However, the beggar — which was secretly Buddhist monk Bodhidharma in disguise — “died,” and Shotuku chose to honor him by burying him in a tomb. A few days later, the body had vanished.

The legend is linked to the creation of the Dali Temple.

 

According to the town’s Facebook page, a human version of Yukimaru is also in frequent attendance at public events:

Every animal from a bottlenose to a sheep and cat have appeared on town and city mascot lists, but a drone is an unusual contribution. However, considering the pup’s namesake and history of the town, perhaps you couldn’t find a more fitting promotor for the town.

Source:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/japanese-town-chooses-flying-puppy-drone-as-official-mascot/

Aided by apps, audiobooks market grows in Japan

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The use of audiobooks is increasing steadily in Japan, providing a boon to the publishing industry, which is facing declining sales of ordinary books.

Audiobooks already account for 10 percent of book sales in the United States and Europe. In the U.S., audiobooks, which started as cassette tapes to listen to while driving, currently form a market worth ¥160 billion.

In Japan, audiobooks as cassette tapes started in the 1980s, but were limited to niche markets such as learning foreign languages and listening to rakugo (comic stories).

People in Japan shunned bulky cassette tape players because they usually commute by train, said Wataru Ueda, chairman of Otobank Inc., an audiobook distributor founded in 2004.

“The situation has changed drastically thanks to easy access (to audiobooks) via smartphone apps,” Ueda said.

Otobank opened a downloading site, called Febe, in 2007 and the number of users has increased from about 2,000 to 180,000. The company now offers 19,000 books, ranging from business titles to literary works.

Otobank has stimulated demand for audiobooks due partly to the adoption of poets, as well as popular actors and dubbing artists, as readers.

Users often listen to audiobooks while commuting, jogging or doing household chores.

Audiobooks have a market of ¥5 billion in Japan. Given their market share of around 10 percent in the U.S. and Europe, the market “could grow to ¥90 billion to ¥100 billion,” Ueda said.

To capitalize on the growth potential, U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. broke into the Japanese market in July 2015 with its Audible audiobook service already available in countries such as the U.S., Britain and Australia.

As part of its marketing offensive in Japan, Amazon decided to use actor Morio Kazama to record all seven books in the popular Harry Potter series. Although the number of audiobooks offered by Amazon is limited by comparison with Otobank, it allows users to listen to as many books as they like for a fixed monthly fee of ¥1,500.

This compares to Audible services overseas, which in principle require users to pay each time they download a book.

“The market is expected to expand in Japan, which, like the U.S. and other countries, has a large population of educated people who like to read books,” said Misako Furuya, head of the Audible business at Amazon Japan G.K.

In April 2015, a total of 16 Japanese publishers, including industry leaders Shinchosha, Kodansha Ltd. and Shogakukan Inc., formed the Japan Audiobook Association to conduct joint market research and studies on the protection of copyrights in order to prepare for an expansion of the market here.

Pending issues are the high cost of producing audiobooks and low public recognition of them, Otobank’s Ueda said.

Compared with electronic books, which are produced by converting physical books into digital data, the production of audiobooks costs more because it uses dubbing artists and, when necessary, special sound effects.

The future of audiobooks will depend on whether producers can overcome cost and other difficulties and offer an extensive lineup of works.

Source:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/13/business/aided-apps-audiobooks-market-grows-japan/#.WKGxidIrK1s

World’s first washable smartphone debuts in Japan

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Everyone knows how progressive Japan’s technology and business industries are. But this year, it seems like “The Land of The Rising Sun” has reached a new milestone with the upcoming Kyocera phones.

 

Kyocera Corporation’s President Goro Yamaguchi officially announced the release of their upcoming Kyocera phones in a press release just last week and here is a big surprise: these phones are washable! Yes, that is right. Also known as the rafre smartphone, this DIGNO Rafre successor allows one to wash his/her smartphone by using a foaming hand soap or body soap, as reported on Kyocera‘s website. But the question is, how does a washable phone really work?

Maintaining smartphones can be a daunting task. One should have to be extra careful about getting more dust inside or dripping liquid all over the internal parts. One should also be careful about the cleaning materials being used. It should not be pointed or have a rough surface, which can result in permanent scratches on the screen or cause damage to other external parts. Well, there is no need to worry about any of these with a washable smartphone.

 

A washable smartphone can simply be cleaned by hand and just by using foaming hand soap or body soap. Just gently rub the soap all over the smartphone’s exterior and rinse it off. According to PCMag, it can even be dunked in a bowl of water and scrubbed by hand until the grime comes off. Moreover, this phone is resistant to hot water. It also allows one to use it even with wet hands or gloved hands.

 

Other features include the special cooking app and the hand gesture feature, which can be used to search for recipes, set timers, or take calls. This is primarily made for those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking at home for family and friends. The washable smartphone, with model name Rafre KYV40 will be available in Japan this March.

Source:

http://www.universityherald.com/articles/63153/20170131/new-killer-kyocera-phones-debut-japan-soon-yes-washable.htm

Mishima and the maze of sexuality in modern Japan

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In June 1948, novelist Osamu Dazai committed suicide. The 38-year-old, who had just completed his masterpiece, “No Longer Human,” and whose fame was peaking, jumped into Tokyo’s Tamagawa Canal with his mistress, Tomie Yamazaki, and drowned.

With his acid wit and nihilistic vision, Dazai had been the key author who benefitted from the easing of censorship after Japan’s defeat in World War II. He scandalized and fascinated postwar society with his personal lifestyle — fathering children out of wedlock — and the fearless manner in which he depicted nontraditional relationships.

He undermined one of the key tenets of sexuality in modern Japan by suggesting that “romantic love” doesn’t always lead to marriage and happiness.

For Dazai, there was no happiness to be found in “romantic love.” He seemed to be fascinated by the illicit romances — blocked by moral and social constraints during the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) — that resulted in shinju (a “double love suicide”), as depicted by playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon. For Dazai, the natural destination of love was death itself. No amount of worldly success — and Dazai had plenty — or romance could challenge the novelist’s view that life was utterly pointless. Illicit love merely furnished a partner with whom to make an exit.

As Dazai’s drowned body was recovered, waiting to take his literary position was a 23-year-old writer, Yukio Mishima, determined to bring an iconoclastic hammer down on a different aspect of sexuality: the taboo of same-sex relationships, which emerged after Japan opened itself to the West after the 1868 Meiji Restoration.

Mishima professed a lifelong hatred of Dazai, a visceral dislike that betrayed the enormous debt Mishima owed to him as a writer. In “No Longer Human,” Dazai had brought brutal, shocking honesty to the depiction of heterosexual relationships, and the year after it was published, 1949, Mishima brought the same honesty to the exposure of his own homosexual and sadomasochistic desires. “Confessions of a Mask” includes a description of the narrator’s ejaculation, which occurs while he is transfixed by the arrow-pierced body of St. Sebastian, as depicted in a Guido Reni painting.

Dazai and Mishima opened the doors to a literary revolution, depicting sexuality and relationships with an unprecedented degree of frankness, but this was not accompanied by a sexual revolution — perhaps both writers were too far ahead of their time. The public might have been enthralled to read about shocking deviations from standard morality, but in wider society those norms remained firmly in place. In 1956, an anti-prostitution law was passed in Japan, as though society could be made healthier with a single, supposedly self-improving piece of legislation.

Mishima’s first major novel was a sensational “coming out,” but he promptly stepped back into the closet. His family, with whom he still lived, dismissed his outlandish sexual fantasies as “nonsense” and Mishima was keen to avoid the stigma of being seen as a gay writer. Even with “Forbidden Colors” (1951-53), which includes descriptions of the gay demimonde that had sprung up in Tokyo after the war, Mishima claimed to be merely an observer, not a participant. He would never directly touch the subject again.

In Japan during the 1950s, sexuality was viewed as something that could be molded and, if needed, corrected — it was not seen as a core part of a person’s identity. In the same way that Mishima set out to transform his weedy frame through bodybuilding, he also attempted to transform himself into a man who could enjoy a “normal” married life. After carefully scrutinizing candidates, he married in 1958 and subsequently had two children.

Meanwhile, a new generation of female writers were attempting to analyze the position of women in a society governed by outmoded and often contradictory social norms. This group included Fumiko Enchi, Yuko Tsushima (Dazai’s daughter) and Taeko Kono, who depicted women as trapped in a society that prized them for their “cuteness” and child-like qualities.

Often forced to endure unhappy marriages, Kono’s female protagonists react to the unnaturalness of their social situation by nurturing sadomasochistic complexes. In the 1961 short story “Yoji-gari” (“Toddler Hunting”), a character seeks to impose her will on young male children, and in the 1962 story “Snow,” a woman leaves a child to die in the freezing cold. These stories suggest that Japan itself acts as an unnatural parent to its female population, seeking to replace their innate identity with an androcentric vision of femininity.

Mishima’s subversive legacy continued to be felt decades later. Haruki Murakami’s three early novels, written between 1979 and 1982 — “Kaze no Uta o Kike” (“Hear the Wind Sing”), “1973 no Pinboru” (“Pinball, 1973”) and “Hitsuji o Meguru Boken” (“A Wild Sheep Chase”) — all begin on or make reference to Nov. 25, 1970, the day Mishima stunned Japan with his spectacular ritual suicide. As the novelist’s torturous sexuality left the main stage, ripples of the West’s sexual revolution began to reach Japan. From the 1970s onward, the shifting nature of sexuality in the nation was tackled by writers such as Haruki Murakami and Ryu Murakami.

An important theme in Murakami’s best-selling “Norwegian Wood” (1987) would be both the promiscuity of the post-’60s generation and the underlying spiritual and emotional emptiness that came with that promiscuity.

Meanwhile, Ryu Murakami inhabited the same space as Dazai, flitting between the bar and nightclub world of modern Tokyo and offering a similarly bleak, humorous and jaundiced view of Japan. In his stories, such as “Historia de un Amor” (1997), there is always a kind of “other self” waiting for redemption from their indulgences in sex, drugs and alcohol. The sophistication and explosion of money in the ’80s bubble economy meant that the sadomasochistic fantasies once silently borne by the protagonists of Mishima and Kono could now be fully acted out — like the characters in Murakami’s 1988 short story collection “Topaz” — with prostitutes busy at work in the opulent bedrooms of Tokyo’s New Otani hotel.

In Japan, alternative perspectives on sexuality still struggle for widespread acceptance. In 2013, when a major exhibition of Japanese shunga (erotic paintings and woodblock prints) was held in London, some Japanese were embarrassed to visit; in 2014, Japanese artist Rokudenashiko was arrested for distributing “obscene” 3-D scans of her vagina. The straitjacket of Meiji Era respectability has not loosened much around sexual transgression.

The supposed declining interest in sex in Japan has been much reported, with a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research published last September claiming that 65 percent of unmarried people between 18-34 were not in a romantic relationship. When asked why, many Japanese young people reportedly said they found sex “mendokusai” (“troublesome”).

Sexuality is indeed complex, but the nation’s modern novelists — from Dazai to Mishima to Kono — offer the best road map to the beguiling maze of sexual identity in Japan.

Source:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/01/14/books/mishima-maze-sexuality-modern-japan/#.WIeW0tIrInQ

Why are Japanese light novel names so ridiculously long?

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TOKYO —Traditional Japanese culture prizes simplicity and shuns excess. This is, after all, the country that likes to take the time to appreciate the beauty of a solitary arranged flower or single cup of green tea.

At the same time, authors of “light novels,” Japan’s literary equivalent to young adult fiction, are known for being anything but pithy. Light novel readers, on the whole, are a pretty accepting bunch as far as high-word-count prose is concerned, and that attitude extends to the titles of books that fall into the category as well.

But even with that backdrop, people in Japan are stunned by the name of an upcoming release from major light novel publisher Dengeki Bunko. Going on sale March 10 is the first book in a new series from author Uwami Kuruma, which is called: “Sew for Her! Strip Her? Change Her Clothes!! She Screwed Up Her High School Debut and Became a Shut-In, so I’ve Ended Up Coordinating Her Youth (Fashion).”

Kind of a mouthful, isn’t it? But does it sound better in the original Japanese? “Nuiage! Nugashite? Kisekaeru!! Kanojo ga Koukou Debyuu ni Shippai Shite Hikikomori to Kashita no de, Ore ga Seishun (Fasshon) wo Koodineeto Suru Koto ni.”

Nope, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in either language. It gets high marks for informativeness, though. The publisher goes on to expand on the expansive title by saying the book will star Tomonaga Ono, an “incredibly ordinary” high school boy whose childhood friend overdresses on her first day of high school, with the reactions from her classmates sending her into such shock that she becomes a “hikikomori,” which leads to Tomonaga taking off her clothes (and presumably dressing her in more appropriate ones, no doubt after a suitable amount of sexy times are allowed to take their course).

So what drives light novel authors to choose such long-winded titles? Well, it’s an intensely youth-focused market, which means the market is crowded with dozens of competing novels all packed with whatever tropes are currently in-vogue among teens. “Love interest who’s a childhood friend,” “sympathetic shut-in,” and “main character who’s an ordinary guy but volunteers to help a girl with a problem” are all incredibly common storytelling elements in contemporary light novels (and also anime and manga), so having a comically long name can give a book a much-needed edge in standing out from others on the shelf.

But aren’t such long names hard to remember? Sure, but there are two ways that can work to their advantage. “Otaku” (the primary purchasers of light novels) have long taken pleasure in possessing specialized knowledge, and being able to rattle off the complete title of “Sew for Her! Strip Her? Change Her Clothes!! She Screwed Up Her High School Debut and Casey Can’t Remember the Rest” makes those who can pull off the feat feel like part of a special club. Plus, such a long title means that should the series’ popularity take off, it’s almost certainly going to get a shortened nickname (as happened with “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?/Danmachi”). Fans being able to use that nickname when talking to one another is almost like a secret handshake, which creates a feeling of solidarity among members of the fandom.

Of course, that doesn’t make things any easier for casual readers, but like anime, the light novel business is powered by its most passionate supporters. One other group that’s probably a bit nonplussed by the title “Sew for Her! Strip Her? Change Her Clothes!! She Screwed Up Her High School Debut and Became a Shut-In, so I’ve Ended Up Coordinating Her Youth (Fashion)?” The graphic designer who has to fit all that on the front of the book in an aesthetically pleasing way, and so it’s not surprising that Dengeki Bunko has yet to unveil its cover artwork.

Source:

https://www.japantoday.com/category/arts-culture/view/why-are-japanese-light-novel-names-so-ridiculously-long-authors-latest-has-27-words

Haruki Murakami’s new book to be released February 24 in Japan

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Haruki Murakami’s new book has a title, though its content remains a mystery.

“Kishidancho Goroshi,” or “Killing Commendatore,” will hit Japanese bookstores on Feb. 24, the book’s publisher, Shinchosha Publishing Co. said. Overseas availability isn’t yet known, The Associated Press reports.

Shinchosha said the book will have two parts, with the Japanese subtitles meaning “Emerging Ideas” and “Moving Metaphor.”

The esoteric titles suggest a contrast from the past works by the acclaimed best-selling writer.

“The titles perhaps give you an impression that is different from Murakami’s past works, don’t they? What is its content like?” Shinchosha said in an email.

The publisher would only say more hints would come later. Murakami has described it as a very strange story.

Murakami, 67, usually shies away from the limelight, although he has spoken out on issues such as world peace and nuclear energy. He began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after finishing college. His 1987 romantic novel “Norwegian Wood” was his first best-seller, establishing him as a young literary star.

His most recent novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” was released in Japan in 2013, and a collection of short stories, “Men Without Women,” was published in 2014. His million-seller “1Q84” in 2009 was one of his longest novels, with the Japanese edition coming out in three volumes.

Source:

http://www.miragenews.com/haruki-murakamis-new-book-to-be-released-february-24-in-japan/