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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Japan News This Week 25 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Says Deadly Ship Collision Happened Earlier Than Reported
New York Times

Ireland score seven tries in thumping 50-22 win over Japan
BBC

Kake scandal continues to plague Abe administration with discovery of new doc
The Mainichi

Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market to finally move home, says governor
Guardian

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

2017 World Press Freedom Index (#1 is the most free press)

1) Norway
2) Sweden
3) Finland
4) Denmark
5 Netherlands
6) Costa Rica
7) Switzerland
8) Jamaica
9) Belgium
10) Iceland

40) United Kingdom

43) USA

63) South Korea

72) Japan

Sources: Reporters Without Borders

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi

Minshuku Urashima is a traditional minshuku located on the coast in Muroto City on the Muroto Peninsula.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.


Minshuku Urashima is very popular with those walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage as it is situated at the base of the mountain on which temple 26, Kongochoji is located and just a few kilometers north of temple 25 Shinsoji.

Minshuku Urashima is also conveniently located for anyone wanting to explore the UNESCO registered Global Geo Park of Cape Muroto.

They have 8 rooms in traditional tatami style, with shared bathrooms and toilets. Meals are served in the ground floor cafe which is open all day. The food includes lots of very fresh seafood.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.


When I stayed there, the skipjack season had begun so as well as skipjack sashima I was served a massive skipjack steak. The owners are very friendly and helpful. They even ferried my heavy backpack up the coast to my next hotel so I could walk the day with no luggage.

Prices are very reasonable. I paid 6,000 yen for a single room with two meals.

Minshuku Urashima
Ko 1901-4, Moto
Muroto-shi
Kochi 781-7107
Tel: 0887 23 1105

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Wharf Cafe Nieche

小さな宿 Nieche

Wharf Cafe Nieche just a couple of minutes from Taiji Station is a friendly and economical guest house in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

The rooms are fairly basic, but comfortable tatami and futon squares and there is very little noise at night, guaranteeing a peaceful sleep.
Bathrooms are communal.

The breakfasts were wonderful, served either western or Japanese style. There's Wifi and the young-at-heart owner will run you down to nearby Shippo restaurant if you have no other arrangements for dinner.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji.

Nieche has a few, fairly old bicycles that are free to take around town. The nearest convenience store is a 20-25 minute hike away from the center of Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

Wharf Cafe Nieche is definitely recommended if you are looking for budget accommodation in the Japanese countryside with a relaxed atmosphere and a wonderful start to your day with fresh local produce for breakfast.

You can book online through the link below but telephoning might be easier even if you don't speak Japanese.

Shippo Restaurant, Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche
Ichiya, 43-1
Nachikatsuura-cho
Higashimuro-gun
Wakayama 649-5141
Tel: 0735 57 0470

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kurotani Washi

黒谷和紙

Kurotani is well-known for its wagami ('rice' paper) production. Appreciation for this lifetime-absorbing craft has led to the paper art of Kurotani being designated an Important Cultural Property of Kyoto.

Kurotani Washi.


The history of Kurotani village traces back eight centuries to a warrior of the Taira Clan who, having failed at battle, saw it as his duty to leave an art form for following generations. A communal determination to stay with the traditional techniques employed from the start have led to paper of consistent quality, and to world-wide fame.

Wagami, or washi, is made from the Paper Mulberry tree of the Mulberry Bush family, characterized by its durable, fibrous quality. The delicate beauty of each sheet is apparent, and kept in good condition this kind of paper lasts literally a millenium or more - a stunning technical achievement for the craftspeople of the Heian era.

In the centre of Kurotani the Wagami Exhibition Hall provides paper information (mainly in Japanese). It also offers also a tour of neighborhood homes and workshops, where the paper making process can be viewed. Visitors have the opportunity to produce paper themselves and to purchase products made from washi such as wallets, name card holders, greetings cards, notebooks and zabuton cushions.

Kurotani Washi Kaikan
3 Higashidani, Kurotani-cho
Ayabe City
Kyoto 623-0108
Tel: 0773 44 0213
Monday-Friday 9am-4.30pm closed weekends and national holidays.

Take the JR Sanin Main Line from Kyoto Station to Ayabe Station (70 minutes by limited express) and exit the station from the south exit. The  Kurotani Washi Kaikan is two minute’s walk from the Kurotani Wash Kaikan Mae stop on the Aya Bus Kurotani Line.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mimurotoji Temple Uji

三室戸寺

In the wide garden of Mimurotoji Temple in Uji there are 30 different kinds of hydrangea some of which seem to have the shape of a heart. June and early July is the perfect time to see these beautiful flowers in bloom.

Known also as the "flower temple," Mimurotoji Temple also draws visitors to its cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas in May and lotus flowers in July and August.

Mimurotoji Temple, Uji, Kyoto.

Mimurotoji Temple's buildings include a three story, vermilion pagoda and the Main Hall, built in the early 19th century and containing an image of a thousand-armed Kannon.

To get to Mimurotoji Temple from Kyoto, take the Keihan Line from Sanjo Keihan Station or Demachiyanagi (change at Chushojima) or the JR Nara Line to Uji.

Mimurotoji Temple Uji, Kyoto.


From Uji Station and Keihan Uji Station the number #43 bus runs hourly to the temple. The nearest station is Keihan Mimuroto Station from where the temple is a 15 minute walk.

Mimuroto Temple
Shigatani, 21,Todo
Uji, Kyoto Prefecture 611-0013
Tel: (0774) 21 2067
Admission: 500 yen
Hours: 9am-4.30pm (closed December 29-31)

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Japanese News This Week 18 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Arrests Longest-Sought Fugitive After Nearly 46 Years
New York Times

'Conspiracy' law enacted to punish planning of crimes
The Mainichi

Japan to launch self-navigating cargo ships 'by 2025'
BBC

Japan accused of eroding press freedom by UN special rapporteur
Guardian

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

June 20 is World Refugee Day. There are an estimated 65 million refugees worldwide.

Canada, with a population roughly 1/4 of Japan's,  has accepted 40,000 Syrians alone since the fall of November 2015.

Japan however continues to be extremely unwelcoming to refugees.

In 2016, a record 10,901 would be refugees applied for asylum last year in Japan. That was an increase of 3,315 on the previous year. Of the applicants, 28 were accepted. 

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 14, page 13

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu

日中友好庭園

The Japan-China Friendship Garden, near the south bank of the Nagara River, just north of Gifu Park (Gifu Koen) in Gifu, was built in 1999 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the friendship partnership between Gifu and Hangzhou.

Japan-China Friendship Garden, Gifu.


The Japan-China Friendship Garden is laid out in classic, Chinese style with a keyhole gate, ornamental ponds, bridges and pavilions.

The central pond is meant to resemble the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, which so inspired ancient Chinese poets.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.


Japan-China Friendship Garden
390-1 Mitarashi
Gifu 500-8002

The park is free to enter and is a short walk across the road from Gifu Koen. Buses to Gifu Koen leave from bays 12 and 13 at JR Gifu Station and also from outside Meitetsu Gifu Station.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over

Remember your first impression of the Japanese, packed in tourist buses and racing through Europe in a cloud of 'Sorry, sorry, so sorry!'?

Now that you've come to Japan, you can observe first-hand the national pastime of making constant apologies for no reason at all. You might find it strange to apologize in situations where fault is not an issue.

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over。


Smooth interaction in Japan, however, requires constant affirmation of indebtedness and appreciation of kindness or favors. In this society 'Thanks' is sometimes more conveniently expressed as 'I'm sorry for having troubled you', but the meaning is the same.

Sumimasen ('I'm sorry') is used in every situation imaginable, even in every day greetings and interactions, where it can mean 'Excuse me', 'Thank you', or 'Here you are'. You can use it to get a shop clerk's attention, when passing in front of someone, or when giving thanks for a favor, in which case you would use the past tense, Sumimasen deshita. Another form of apology is gomen nasai.

More informal than Sumimasen, it is used less in business situations and more among friends, when it's sometimes shortened to just Gomen.

When you really have something to be sorry for, then you can use Moshiwake arimasen (or the past tense, Moshiwake arimasen deshita). It means 'There's no excuse for what I did!'

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Japanese Language Of Words and Women

Much has been written in praise of the Kyoto woman: her beauty, her grace, her charming and distinctive speech. Indeed, throughout Japan the Kyoto woman's way of speaking has long been considered the embodiment of femininity.

Japanese Language Of Words and Women.


Today, however, the young Kyoto woman speaks in much the same way as her sisters in the rest of Kansai (the name for the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto region). The alluring tones of genuine Kyoto dialect are now most likely heard from the lips of aged grandmothers, or in the entertainment districts, where geisha and maiko, many of whom are not native Kyoto-ites, have worked hard to acquire them.

Still, some remnants of old Kyoto speech, used by both men and women, linger on in daily life. A well-known example is oki-ni (pronounced oh-KEE-nee). Used by old and young alike, it is the Kyoto word for 'thank you'. Another example is the way old people often address others as anta-han, anta being a familiar form of the standard anata (you), while han is probably derived from the formal title san. The effect is polite and familiar at the same time. You may also hear an elderly person refer to O-cha ('honorable' tea) as O-bu.

Though true dialect may be disappearing, the Kyoto accent still softens modern-day speech. This can sometimes cause problems for the Kyoto businessman, who, when he ventures to Tokyo, often finds it hard to strike the accepted masculine tone.

Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Japan News This Week 11 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan, Short on Babies, Reaches a Worrisome Milestone
New York Times

Okinawa Gov. Onaga announces suit vs. Japan gov't to halt Henoko base
The Mainichi

Studio Ghibli to open 'Totoro' theme park in Japan
BBC

Japan nuclear workers inhale plutonium after bag breaks
Guardian

Constructing the Construction State: Cement and Postwar Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

In the past decade, the number of Japanese widows who have filed for divorce from their deceased husbands has risen 1.5 fold. In 2015 there were 2,783 such cases.

You read that correctly.

A woman whose husband has passed away goes to the municipal office and fills out the paper work, applies her hanko (official stamp), and becomes officially divorced from her dead husband.

The main reasons for this are: 1) to cut ties with her mother-in-law or other relatives, 2) to not have to take care of/clean the family grave. 

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 5, Evening Edition, page 1

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel

The Takamatsu Pearl Hotel is a small budget hotel in Takamatsu, right opposite the main JR Takamatsu railway station and a couple of minutes from the ferry ports.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel.


The Takamatsu Pearl Hotel has both Western and Japanese style tatami rooms, both with ensuite bathroom and toilet. The rooms come in a range of sizes for one to 4 people.

The rooms are not big but come with all the expected facilities, telephone, TV, AC, fridge, kettle etc. Some of the rooms do not have windows.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel, Takamatsu.


Internet is wired LAN with cables available from the front desk. Unlike most hotels however, prices are per room and not per person, so while already at the low end of hotel price range, for a family just needing a room for the night, it can be quite cheap.

A single room is 4,000 yen, a double 6,000 yen, a twin 7,000 yen, a triple for 9,000 yen, or a room for four people 10,000 yen.

Breakfast is optional for 500 yen. The hotel has a washing machine and dryer, a computer for guests use in the lobby, and lockers to store luggage.

One point worth noting is the late check-in -
not until 5pm.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel
Nishinomarucho 2-19
Takamatsu-shi
Kagawa 760-0021
Tel: 0878 22 3382

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel, Shikoku.


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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Japanese Garden Stones

藤戸石

Stones are the most important feature of a Japanese garden. If the ground is the "flesh" of a Japanese garden, then the stones are its "bones".

Japanese Garden Stones.


Garden stones fall into three main categories: "named" stones, unimportant "unnamed" stones, and stones which already existed on the site.

The most famous named stone in Japan is called Fujito after the beach in Okayama Prefecture where it was discovered. Fujito was owned by both the warlords Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, two of the most important figures in Japanese history. Wrapped in silk brocade, Fujito was moved from garden to garden to the accompaniment of music. Nowadays, it can be found in the garden of Sampo-in, a sub-temple of the Daigo-ji Temple complex in south east Kyoto.

Do-it-yourself landscape gardening is a dangerous undertaking for an inexperienced person in Japan, as there are many taboos associated with stones. Bad fortune can come from setting upright a rock that was found lying horizontally, or from setting horizontally a stone that was found standing vertically. Setting a stone upside down releases the evil spirit in the stone resulting in a whole heap of problems.

There are five colors of stone, one for each element: red for fire, black for water, blue/green for wood, white for metal, and yellow for earth. The most extreme repercussion for messing up in this category results from making the mistake of planting a tree with red blossoms next to a red stone set in the south of a garden of a person born in a year associated with fire. This is called a combination of four fires and the result will be that the unfortunate person's house will burn down.

To learn more about Japanese gardens, purchase a copy of Japanese Garden Design (by Marc P. Keane, a former Kyoto-based American gardener), or the The Art of Zen Gardens: A Guide to their Creation and Enjoyment (by A. K. Davidson; this excellent how-to book is perfect if you want to create your own Japanese garden).

Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Ajiro A Taste of Zen Near Myoshinji

阿じろ

Shojin ryori, the vegetarian cuisine served in the Rinzai, Soto, and Obaku sects of Zen Buddhism, is one of the culinary delights of Kyoto and can be enjoyed at a variety of temples and restaurants in the city. Ajiro, on the west side of Kyoto, near the Myoshinji complex is amazing!

Ajiro A Taste of Zen Near Myoshinji.


Ajiro is located across the street from the south gate of Myoshin-ji, one of the head temples of the Rinzai sect of Zen with some 3,500 sub-temples all over Japan. A huge temple complex in the western area of Kyoto, Myoshin-ji is also famous for its shojin ryori. For decades, Ajiro specialized in catering ceremonies and services at Myoshin-ji, but since rebuilding and opening to the public in the late 1980's, this small restaurant has been putting a new spin on the centuries-old Myoshin-ji tradition of cuisine.

The menu at Ajiro changes every month, says head chef Chiba Mitsuru, in accord with the season and its offerings. Although not trained as a priest, the fresh-faced and soft-spoken Chiba is mindful that shojin ryori is meant to be sustenance for the spirit as well as the body.

The restaurant has only two small rooms on the first floor and two larger ones on the second. The food is served on low lacquered tables and is brought course by course to your room. Ajiro's daizu-dofu, soybean tofu thickened with arrowroot, includes tofu made with lotus root, pistachios, or walnuts. Their daizu-mochi, glutinous rice cakes made with soybeans, wood ear and lily bulb, float in a rich stock, garnished with grated citron.

This distractingly good dish was served with a cup of Omuro no Hana, a tasty local sake with a sweet edge to it. Next was the boxed lunch, pleasing both to the eye and tongue. Among the appetizing array of vegetables was a dish of rape buds, bamboo shoot, yuba (soybean milk skin), and nama-fu (wheat gluten) in a delicate tofu sauce and one of Daitoku-ji natto (preserved soybeans) in a tiny dumpling made of ground lily bulb.

To end the meal diners are served yuto, bowls of hot water which had been flavored with salt and grilled rice balls, then eat the rice balls too. In temples, yuto is often served instead of tea. In the past, when rice was prepared in wood-burning ovens, it was one way to use the scorched rice on the bottom of the pot.

While in the neighborhood, be sure to take a walk around Myoshin-ji, rich in artistic, architectural, and landscaped treasures. One of the oldest sub-temples on the grounds, Taizo-in is known for its rock garden, designed by the great Muromachi Period painter, Kano Motonobu, who superbly managed to pass on his painterly vision in the trees, shrubs, and rocks of the garden.

Catching a Catfish with a Gourd.


The temple also owns of one of the masterpieces of Japanese brush and ink painting, Catching a Catfish with a Gourd. (A copy is displayed at the temple; the original is in the Kyoto National Museum.) If you're lucky, you'll be able to linger and enjoy the garden.

Ajiro
Hanazono
Myoshin-ji Minami Mon-mae
Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8041
Tel: 075 463 0221

Open for lunch from noon to 3pm. Dinner is served from 5pm-9pm daily except Wednesdays, and guests are requested to enter no later than 7pm. Reservations are necessary. Tel: (075) 463 0221. Taizo-in is open daily to the public. The entrance fee is 600 yen.

Open: 9am-4pm. Entry: 500 yen. Access: Take city bus #5 from Kyoto Station to Nanzen-ji Eikando-mae; then walk 15 min. to the east. Tel: 075 761 0007.
Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Japan News This Week 4 June 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Why Spend $110 Million on a Basquiat? ‘I Decided to Go for It,’ Japanese Billionaire Explains
New York Times

Special bill on Emperor Akihito's abdication could serve as precedent: Suga
The Mainichi

Japan's growing concern over China's naval might
BBC

Not All South Koreans Satisfied With Japan's Apology To 'Comfort Women'
NPR

North Korea fires missile into Japanese waters
Guardian

Constructing the Construction State: Cement and Postwar Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Beginning with an apology from Prime Minister Shiina Etsusaburo in 1965, Japan has apologized to South Korea more than 20 times over war-related issues, including the issue of the Comfort Women who were conscripted to work in Japanese military brothels.

Sources: Wikipedia

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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Unique Buddhist Sculpture Masterworks in Kameoka & Kyoto

Kyoto has more Buddhist statues than any other place in Japan. Some of them are National Treasures and a few are rarely open to public viewing.

Unique Buddhist Sculpture Masterworks in Kameoka & Kyoto。


However, all of them possess a mysterious power that is undeniable. The master sculptors that created them were so skilled that they were able to give each statue a unique spiritual energy. Below are three temples where Buddhist statues are particularly powerful and easy to see. Each of them has a fascinating background and each of them has the power to calm the heart of the viewer.

Anao-ji 穴太寺

Anao-ji Temple's "Reclining Buddha": This temple is the 21st station on the well-known 33-temple Western Japan pilgrimage route. Anao-ji's 85-year-old Buddha, as its name suggests, is reclined under a blanket.

Under the head is a lotus-flower-shaped pillow. The figure is a beautiful shiny black. When you gaze at it you can almost hear the Buddha's breathing.

There is a story about this Buddha that concerns a monk whose beautiful granddaughter was very sick. He searched for a Buddha to cure her and this was the one. Today, many people come here and rub the part of the Buddha where they are sick. Touching the Buddha at this location is completely OK.

Open: 9am-4pm. Entry: 300 yen. Access: Take the JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Station to Kameoka Station in Kameoka to the west of Kyoto; then take a 15-minute bus ride to Anaoguchi bus stop. Tel: 0771 24 0809.

Seigen-ji 清源寺

Seigen-ji Temple's "Juroku Rakan": This quiet temple in Yagi-cho, a little west of Kameoka City, is home to 16 precious wooden figures of Rakan. All of the figures were carved by the monk Myoman in 1806.

Also known as Mokujiki, Myoman ate only nuts, berries, and a kind of buckwheat known as mokujiki. All the figures have round, gently smiling faces, each with a slightly different expression. On the back of 15 of the figures is written Rakan, the date of completion and Myoman's signature.

Only the last one has a different signature because Myoman was told to change his name in a dream. Seeing these figures will surely make you smile too. Note: to visit this temple you must make a reservation in advance.

Open: 9am-4.30pm. Entry: donation. Access: Take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto Station to Yagi Station; from there take a 10-minute taxi ride. Tel: 0771 42 3743.

Zenrin-ji Eikando 永観堂

Zenrin-ji Eikando Temple's "Mikaeri Amida": This 77-cm high wooden Amitabha Buddha figures is believed to have been carved in the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333). There is a famous legend connected with the figure.

A long time ago, the monk Eikan, the founder of this Jodoshu sect temple, was doing walking meditation around the statue. To his great surprise, the Buddha got off his altar and began walking in circles too. Eikan was so amazed that he stopped walking and froze. Then the Buddha turned his face back to Eikan and said: "Eikan Ososhi" (Eikan, you are slow).

Since that time, the figure has always had its head turned over his shoulder. The strong smile on the figure's face is said to lead people to enlightenment.

Open: 9am-4pm. Entry: 500 yen. Access: Take city bus #5 from Kyoto Station to Nanzen-ji Eikando-mae; then walk 15 min. to the east. Tel: 075 761 0007.
Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Mitsubishi Estate Artium

三菱地所アルティアム

The Mitsubishi Estate Artium is a small art gallery in Tenjin, Fukuoka. The exhibitions change about once a month and are often accompanied by lectures, talks and film shows.

Mitsubishi Estate Artium, Tenjin, Fukuoka.


Work displayed covers a wide range of styles including painting, sculpture, illustration, design and photography and draws from local, national and international artists.

In May 2017 the exhibition is The Secret of Simplicity, showcasing the work of Dutch artist Dick Bruna. Entry fees vary by exhibition, but a 2,000 annual pass allows entry to all exhibitions for a year.

IMS Building Tenjin Fukuoka.


The gallery is located on the 8th floor of Inter Media Station, a ten-floor shopping mall located across from Tenjin Nishitetsu Station.

Open 10am to 8pm. Closed irregularly whenever IMS is closed.

The Mitsubishi Estate Artium
IMS
8F Tenjin 1-7-11 Fukuoka City
Fukuoka 810-0001
Tel: 092 733 2050

IMS Building Tenjin Fukuoka.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Kyocera Museum of Art Special Exhibition Rin/Ten

The Kyocera Museum of Art will host a new exhibition: Rin/Ten - Encounter of Fine Ceramics and Art from June 9 - July 9.

The exhibition will feature approximately 20 new art works by Jumpei Ueda, an up-and-coming young artist, originally from Sakai, Osaka, now based in Kyoto, who practices arts with "ceramics"and among the exhibited works, most use Kyocera's fine ceramics.

The Kyocera Museum of Art Special Exhibition Rin/Ten.
Hou - I (baked-mud) The action of a man’s hands scooping water led to creation of civilization and tools. This work of art is a manifestation of how the artist sees this principle of things.
Fine ceramics (also known as advanced ceramics) are widely used for industrial or electronic components in various applications including automobiles and smartphones, however, they have rarely been used in the arts because they are generally considered difficult materials to process - although aesthetically attractive.

Ueda was excited to take on the challenge of working with a new type of pottery using fine ceramics, and Kyocera hopes to let people see the attractiveness of fine ceramics and their potential in the arts.

As both parties share a similar goal, the company decided to hold the special exhibition to display the works by Ueda. As for the meaning of the special exhibition title, "Rin" is taken from the Japanese words rinkai (critical), rinkaku (profile), or rinsetsu (adjoining); and "Ten" is taken from hanten (return), tenkai (development), or setten (contact). A combination of rin and ten also connotes rin-ten or rinne, which is reincarnation in Buddhism. The exhibition will allow visitors to experience extraordinary feelings created by the works that seem simple at a glance but are actually complex and look inorganic but are actually full of life.

The Kyocera Museum of Art Special Exhibition Rin/Ten.
Shikaku - Rasen (porcelain) Spiral structure is found common in both materials and humans. Humans create many forms, among which squares are very often found. The relationship among spirals is expressed with a square.
The Kyocera Museum of Art
(Kyocera Corporation Global Head Office, 1st floor)
6 Takeda Tobadono-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City, Japan 612-8501
Access: global.kyocera.com
Dates: June 9 (Fri) through July 9 (Sun), 2017
*The museum will be open every day during this special exhibition. Hours 10am to 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)
Admission: Free
Exhibits: Approximately 20 pieces including ceramic art made from fine ceramics

Shiro-mon.
Shiro - Mon (fine ceramics) Square plates made of fine ceramics are laid out in a space expressing a mirror, a window, or a painting so that a blank or a margin is expressed in a real world.
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Gay like a King in Osaka

キング

Doyama is Osaka's largest and most varied gay district, and the choice of bars and clubs can at times bewilder. Yet there can only be one King, and this King, unusually, exists to serve you, the people.

King, Doyama-cho, Osaka.


Servitude is just a short walk from the center of Umeda, and begins nightly at 8pm every night of the week except Mondays. The entrance to the bar, once you find the small side street that it is on, is easy to find. Just look for the sign that says "KING" in big letters.

KING, Doyama-cho, Osaka, Japan.


Upon entering King's 2nd floor domicile, you will be struck by just how kingly the proportions of the space are. There's plenty of space to comfortably mingle, which is not often the case at gay bars in Japan. Seating too -- at the bar, in loungey enclaves, and in settings even better suited for a grand mingle -- allows you to kick it exactly as you like.

Gay like a King in Osaka.


The layout is set out smartly, with the bar in back, various seating clusters spread about the middle, and a small stage in front. The place is decked out with all sorts of mood lighting, but it all just manages to stay tasteful and fun without being cheesy or over the top.

King keeps their drinks menu simple and affordable, which naturally keeps the royal subjects pleased. There is no cover charge, and drinks are 500 yen each. Be it a mixed drink, a beer, or something a little more Japanese, King helps you get your gay on for only 500 yen a pop.

Gay like a King in Osaka.


Unless you are popping Champagne, which, alas, takes you somewhere far, far away from 500 yen. If going the beer route, why not have as Asahi? Asahi was born and bred in Osaka, so it is the obvious choice!

Weekend evenings often bring special events and shows, and King is ready with the aforementioned, and rather princely, stage. Shows and themes vary from sexy to campy, but a good time is invariably had by all.

Some shows and events can get a bit risque, which generally means an even better time for the masses. Nothing wrong with a little stripping down to the sexy undies now and again, is there? It is a gay bar, after all!

Gay like a King in Osaka.


Greeting you with a smile (and a smile-inducing body) is Wan, your bartender in residence. He's eager to make your night the best it can be, and in virtually no time, you will feel right at home in this multicultural bar.

Other staff are in residence, especially during the busy weekend hours, and you are bound to find some English speakers around too. And it is here that we have the essence of what makes King a great stop for the gay visitor to Osaka: Hospitality.

Gay like a King in Osaka.


King eagerly looks to attract foreign visitors because the King aims to have an international vibe while also catering to their local frequent customers. A visit to King is the perfect way for a visitor from abroad to get to know the gay scene in Osaka in a comfortable, affordable, and very fun way.

King
2F, 10-11 H&I Bldg
Doyamacho
Kita-ku, Osaka-shi
530-0027
(google map)
gaybarking.jimdo.com
Hours: weekday 20:00 - 05:00 (Closed Monday) / weekend 17:00 - 05:00

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Japan News This Week 28 May 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan’s Economy Is Growing, but Don’t Call It a Hot Streak
New York Times

Hiroshima museum receives A-bomb-related materials from descendants of Allied troops
The Mainichi

Japan princess to marry for love
BBC

Ramen Rock: These Japanese Punk Legends Sing About Food
NPR

Number of flights to Japan to hit record level this summer
Nikkei Asia Reviews

Japan to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate but makes no move on female succession
Guardian

Seawall Construction on Oura Bay: Internationalizing the Okinawa Struggle
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Pay of elected representatives by country, in UK Pounds.

Britain: £66,396 in 2013
Italy: £120,546
Australia: £117,805
USA: £114,660
Spain: £28,969
Japan: 21,000,000 yen (£145,656) in 2011

Sources: Daily Telegraph, for Japan

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Japanese Rain Words



Tsuyu (梅雨) and uki (雨季) in Japanese both mean the rainy season. Literally, the kanji for tsuyu means "plum rain" and uki is translated into "rainy period." The word tsuyu has this reading because June is when all the plums fruit. Tsuyu is poetic, whereas uki is a practical word that just describes the fact.

Japanese Rain Words.


To describe rain (ame) or a shower (niwaka-ame), Japanese language has an abundance of one word nouns - samidare for May rain and saiu for drizzling rain and on and on. This is an another example of the generally accepted idea that Japanese is more lyrical than English (which has become the international language partly because of its practicality).

Kyoto during tsuyu greets you with a different mood than the rest of the year, and the lyrical beauty of this wet season has inspired many literary hearts and works. For people new to the rainy season, be prepared for a time of exceptionally high humidity, learn to love an umbrella, and explore the city with a rain escape plan to a museum or indoor attraction always in mind. Enjoy the rain in its many forms. Kyoto in tsuyu is lush, reflective, and, when you're truly lucky, dry and sunny.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Backdoor School Websites

学校裏サイト

A mobile phone, featurephone or smartphone is almost a must-have for school pupils in Japan - even, elementary school pupils - primarily as a way of maintaining contact between the child and his or her parents at all times.

A gakko-ura-saito ("backdoor school site," also known as a gakko-hikoshiki-saito, or "unofficial school site") is a non-public website dedicated to topics relating to a particular school, and which students of the school subscribe to.

In nearly all cases, these sites are can only  be accessed by mobile phones or smartphones (computer access is disabled by IP address identification) and are password-protected. Gakko-ura-saito are unsearchable on the internet.

The latest figures for such sites are already 9 years old, but Mombusho (the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology) estimated back then that there were over 38,000 gakko-ura-saito in Japan. However, this figure included even threads on major internet notice boards such as those operated by  Ni-Channel, MilkCafe and Yahoo Japan. Excluding these, the number dropped to over 4,700. However, this is considered a vast underestimate, considering the difficulty of ascertaining the existence of sites that don't appear on internet search engines.

Gakko-ura-saito are known to have existed at least as far back as 2002  and first came to public attention in 2006 when they were covered by the TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System Television) channel. The topic quickly got taken up by other TV channels and started being treated as a social problem.

Substance was given to this "social problem" reputation in September 2007, when a student at the privately-run Takigawa High School in Suma ward, Kobe, committed suicide as a result of harrassment via the school's gakko-ura-saito, leading to the arrest of four students a couple of months later on charges of extortion.

Besides threat-laden demands for money having been made via the gakko-ura-saito, nude photos of the student had been anonymously posted on it, as well as personal information such as his residential address and phone number.

The administrators of the site, however, were not subject to prosecution, as what the perpetrators had posted was not considered to be outright character assassination but hurtful abuse, in which case the law does not consider aiding and abetting to be a crime. However, in 2008, a court in a civil prosecution ordered the site administrators to pay damages of 550,000 yen.

Apparently much of the content of anonymous noticeboards on gakko-ura-saito are abusive, naming real names, and full of obscene images. Not only students, but parents/guardians, too, are the subject of abuse, leading in some cases to students having to change schools.

In 2008, Yokohama City carried out a survey on gakko-ura-saito, and ordered the removal of them at 68 of the 145 junior high schools in the city. Yet, it was reported that the school staff members charged with the task of taking the sites down were, themselves, made the target of abuse and slander on the sites.

Measures to contain damage caused by abusive postings on gakko-ura-saito include websites for parents and teachers that enable them to surreptiously join gakko-ura-saito for the purpose of monitoring them.

(The above information was gathered mainly from the 学校裏サイト page on Wikipedia.)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Shimogamo Shrine & Rugby History in Japan

下鴨神社

The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan was made earlier this month on May 10 in Kyoto. A look at the history of rugby in Japan might tell us why the former capital, Kyoto, was chosen for this event.


Stone memorial to the first game of rugby in western Japan, Shimogamo Shrine.


It is believed the first ever game of rugby in Japan was played by British sailors in Yokohama in 1874 and had spread via a British professor to Keio University, a college founded by Fukuzawa Yukichi and at the forefront of westernizing zeal at the time, by 1899.

In Kansai, western Japan, the game received a boost when a Keio student taught rugby to Third High School (which was to become the college of Liberal Arts at Kyoto University) students in the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine in 1910.

Sawatasha, a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo Jinja, Kyoto.


A stone monument and Sawatasha, a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo, now mark the historic spot.

Rugby became popular in the Kansai with a club at Doshisha University established the following year and it was the enthusiasm of Kansai students for the game that helped to set up similar clubs at Waseda and Tokyo University in the capital, both now hot beds of the game in Japan.

The ceremony for the draw was preceded by a visit to the shrine by Rugby World Cup dignitaries and a game of kemari (ancient Japanese football) was also held.

Grounds of Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kyoto to Introduce Accommodation Tax

京都市、宿泊税導入へ

The city of Kyoto announced on May 10 that it will introduce an accommodation tax beginning in 2018. All hotels and Japanese inns in Kyoto will charge guests a per night fee that will go into the city's coffers.

Kyoto to Introduce Accommodation Tax.


The only exemption is for hotels and inns that cater to junior high school and high school tour groups. One rite of passage in Japan is the school trip - a military-style operation in which a handful of teachers escort and supervise hundreds of students on a several day trip to some far-flung location, often Kyoto - and the hotels these groups use are bare bones and used only by the above groups. 

The Mayor, Daisuke Kadokawa, and City Council will begin discussions in August to decide on the amount visitors will pay.

Like most tourist and business destinations worldwide, Tokyo introduced an accommodation tax in 2002. Osaka followed suit this January.

In those cities, for rooms that are 10,000 yen (roughly $100) a night or more, the tax ranges from 100-300 yen ($1-3) per night.

For those of us who live - and pay city taxes - in Kyoto, this is long overdue and highly welcome.  The city swarms with visitors who use the city's subways, buses, water, medical services, etc. Those of us who live in the city are paying to maintain those services for short-term visitors.

With the exception of a small number of people and groups - temples and shrines (which are exempt from property taxes), restaurateurs, the tourist industry, and hoteliers - most Kyotoites are not merely inconvenienced by the traffic and crowds and difficulty of getting into restaurants but are also paying to maintain the city services tourists are using.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Japan News This Week 21 May 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japanese Princess’s Engagement Revives Debate on Women in Royal Family
New York Times

Do not run: Fleeing from scene when suspected of groping on train not a good idea
The Mainichi

Japan's economy grows faster than expected
BBC

Forced into pornography: Japan moves to stop women being coerced into sex films
Guardian

The Threat to Japanese Democracy: The LDP Plan for Constitutional Revision to Introduce Emergency Powers
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Pay of elected representatives by country, in UK Pounds.

Britain: £66,396 in 2013
Italy: £120,546
Australia: £117,805
USA: £114,660
Spain: £28,969
Japan: 21,000,000 yen (£145,656) in 2011

Sources: Daily Telegraph, for Japan

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Kyoto City Bus 50

京都市バス#50

The Kyoto city bus #50 runs from Kyoto Station to the Kinugasa campus of Ritsumeikan University in the north west of the city near Kinkakuji and Ryoanji temples.

The #50 bus chugs up the western side of Kyoto.

Kyoto City Bus 50, Kyoto Station.


From Kyoto Station the #50 bus stops at Nanajo Nishinotoin, Nishinotoin Shomen, Nishinotoin Rokujo, Gojo Nishinotoin, Nishinotoin Matsubara, Nishinotoin Bukkoji, Shijo Nishinotoin, Shijo Horikawa, Horikawa Takoyakushi, Horikawa Sanjo, Horikawa Oike, Nijojo-mae for Nijo Station and Nijo Castle, Horikawa Marutamachi, Horikawa Shimodachiuri, Horikawa Shimochojamachi, Horikawa Nakadachiuri, Omiya Nakadachiuri, Chiekoin Nakadachiuri, Senbon Nakadachiuri, Senbon Imadegawa, Kamishichiken, Kitano Tenmangu, Kitano Hakubaicho (for the Keifuku Randen Line), Kinugasako-mae, Waratenjin-mae, Sakuragicho and Ritsumeikan Daigaku-mae.

Kyoto City Bus 50, Kyoto Station.


The first #50 bus service for Kyoto Station leaves Ritsumeikan at 6.16am Monday-Sunday and the last bus is 10.20pm daily.

From Kyoto Station the first Kyoto #50 bus is at 6.10am daily and the last bus to Rits is at 10.45pm daily.

The number #50 bus is usually full of university students in the morning but is not so crowded the rest of the day.

Find out more about buses in Kyoto.



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own

法然院

In the cool hours of early summer take the narrow road south from the gate of Ginkaku-ji Temple to the elevated world of Honen-in Temple. Here you will find the sun shining on a large bamboo grove. Here you will find birds singing sweetly high above. Hear you will experience long, silent moments.

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own.


If one walks this same path every day, one will discover the fresh new breath of the changing seasons. New flowers will open your heart and mind. In early spring, plum and peach flowers bloom here, followed by cherry blossoms in mid spring. In the first days of May: the wonder of the fresh green of a new generation of young leaves.

The monks at Honen-in Temple teach about nature and living in harmony with the natural world. The temple also opens its doors to art exhibitions and music concerts by artists from around the world. Nearby, you will find Anraku-ji Temple and Ryokan-ji Temple. Like Honen Temple, both of these temples are quiet and peaceful too.

Honen-in Temple, Kyoto, Japan.


On the north side of Ryokan-ji, stands the private residence of Mr. Shio-mi, who has been displaying his special family of bonsai, on tiered shelves, to the public for many years. It is the custom for people to show some of their favorite flowering plants to the passing public. Kyoto people love flowers.

Also in this area you will often see colorful, shiny new rickshaws passing by, pulled by strong, tanned young men. And people walking their dog in the evening light. Walking along the paths of Kyoto quietens the heart and brings simple joys to the soul. And every day at four in the afternoon the bell at Honen-in rings out over the neighborhood. And this sound too, should you hear it, has a soothing effect on the soul.

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own.


Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima

ビジネスホテル ケアンズ

Cairns Inn is a small, modern hotel in the seaside town of Hiwasa on the coast of Shikoku in Tokushima.

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


They have ten rooms, nine of which are "western style". The most noticeable thing about the rooms is their size - they are much bigger than regular budget business hotel rooms, and the feeling of space is enhanced by the minimal decorations and furnishing made out of plain wood.

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


All rooms are en-suite with the usual facilities of TV, fridge, Wifi, etc.

Extra beds can be added to some rooms for families. There are no meals offered, but the hotel is located right next to JR Hiwasa Station and so restaurants and shops are close by. Popular with pilgrims visiting nearby Yakuoji Temple, a single room costs 4,800 yen.

Cairns Inn
75-16 Benzaiten
Okugawauchi, Minami-cho, Kaifu-gun
Yokushima 779-2305
Tel: 0884 77 1211
www.hotel-cairns.net

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


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