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Japan Visitor

What's happening in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Shimane Japan, updates on sightseeing, museums, temples, shrines and Japan news.
9 Feb
今週の日本

Japan News.
In Industry Shift, Sharp Looks Outside Japan for a Buyer
New York Times

Sakurajima volcano erupts in southern Japan
BBC

Japan to spend millions on tiny islands 1,000 miles south of Tokyo
Guardian

Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step
Japan Times

What Lessons Can Vietnam teach Okinawa about U.S. Military Dioxin?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

2015 Corruption Perception Index:

1 Denmark
2 Finland
3 Sweden
4 New Zealand
5 Netherlands
5 Norway
7 Switzerland
8 Singapore
9 Canada
10 Germany
10 Luxembourg
10 United Kingdom
13 Australia
13 Iceland
15 Belgium
16 Austria
16 United States
18 Hong Kong
18 Ireland
18 Japan

Source: Transparency International

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4 Feb
日比谷駅

Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, Tokyo, Japan.Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, at the Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace Tokyo.Hibiya Station in central Tokyo is operated by both Tokyo subway operators: Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. and the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government ("Toei" or, in English "Tokyo Subway").

Hibiya Station serves three subway lines: the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Chiyoda Line, and the Toei Mita Line.

A notable feature of Hibiya Station is the wide reach of its exits. There are no less than 30 exits in operation (with two currently closed), making access to Hibiya Station possible from all over the Marunouchi and Yurakucho areas of Tokyo. The Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Station, about 350 meters north-east of the Hibiya Line, is directly accessible undergound from Hibiya Station.

Hibiya Station is very near Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace.

The following is a list of Hibiya Station exits and where they lead to (all marked on this Tokyo map)
  
Exit A0 ("A zero") of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Asahi Hall
Yurakucho Mullion (in the Yurakucho Center Building)
Mullion Eigagai (Mullion Movie Theaters)
Yurakucho Hankyu Department Store
Yurakucho Lumine

Exit A1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Sukiyabashi Park (with its big, distinctive Taro Okamoto sculpture)
Yurakuza

Exit A2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Yomiuri Hall
JR Yurakucho Station
JTB Shutoen Yurakucho Branch
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall
JNTO Tourist Information Center (TIC)

Exit A3 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Denki Building
Subaruza Cinema

Exit A4 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome

Exit A5 of Hibiya Station
Toho Twin Tower Building
Teikoku Hotel
Hibiya Chanter ("shan-tay") shopping/dining building
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A6 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome
Hibiya Park Building
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A7 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Intersection
Harumi-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A8 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
Yurakucho Sankei Building

Exit A9 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Marine Building

Exit A10 of Hibiya Station
Iwaidabashi Intersection
Hibiya Park
To Sakuradamon Gate of the Imperial Palace
To Courthouse of Tokyo High Court, Tokyo District Court, and Tokyo Summary Court

Exit A11 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A12 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Mitsui Building
Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Headquarters

Exit A13 of Hibiya Station
Uchisaiwaicho
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Nissay Theater
Teikoku Hotel

Exit A14 of Hibiya Station
Uchisaiwaicho
Hibiya Kokaido Public Hall
Hibiya Press Center Building
Nishi Shimbashi (West Shinbashi)
Chiyoda City's Hibiya Library & Museum
Tokyo Institute for Municipal Research
The Hibiya City complex

Exit B1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building
Marunouchi Police Station
Yurakucho Station of Marunouchi Fire Brigade
Togyo Kaikan (Sugar Manufacturers' Association) Building & Nippon Hoso (Nippon Broadcasting System) Headquarters
To JR Yurakucho Station

Exit B2 of Hibiya Station
DN Tower 21 (Daichi Seimei Insurance & Norinchukin Bank headquarters)

Exit B3 of Hibiya Station (in the Teigeki Building, open 7 am - 11 pm)
Teikoku (Imperial Garden) Theater
Shin-kokusai Building
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Shin-Nisseki Building
Kokusai Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B4 of Hibiya Station
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B5 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Tokyo Kaikan Hall
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building

Exit B6 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Nijubashi Gate of the Imperial Palace
Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace Gaien Garden

Exit B7 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Tokyo International Forum
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
Tokyo Station on the JR Keiyo Line Line
Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI)
Marunouchi Park Building

Nijubashi-mae Station Connecting Exit (5 am - 11 pm)

Exit D1 of Hibiya Station
Teikoku Theater
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Kokusai Building

Exit D2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building

Exit D3 of Hibiya Station
Shin-Kokusai Building
Shin-Nisseki Building

Exit D4 of Hibiya Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D5 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo International Forum

Exit D6 of Hibiya Station
JR Yurakucho Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D7 of Hibiya Station (with elevator)
JR Yurakucho Station
Yurakucho Mullion

Exit D8 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan

Exit D9 of Hibiya Station
Ginza Inz 3

© JapanVisitor.com

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3 Feb
ヨドバシAkiba

The Yodobashi Akiba store across the road from Akihabara Station is a huge electronics emporium with a huge range of cameras, PCs, tablets and other household electronics. Yodobashi Akiba also retails a vast array of non-electronic goods including clothing, health products, DIY goods, bike and car accessories, books, interior goods and pet supplies.

Yodobashi Akiba Akihabara, Tokyo.
The Yodobashi Camera part of the building is on floors 1-6 and is open daily from 9.30am-10pm. The 7th floor has a range of speciality stores, the 8th floor is the restaurant floor and the 9th floor has a batting center and golf shop.

www.yodobashi-akiba.com
101-0028, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo Hanaokacho, Tokyo 1-1

© JapanVisitor.com

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2 Feb
A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 1, Morning
Thursday December 24th

I start my walk along the Shodoshima Pilgrimage just after the sun has risen. Only a few days past the winter solstice, the days are very short and I need to take advantage of all the daylight there is.

When I arrived here last night it was pouring with rain, but I am pleasantly surprised to find clear skies and pink clouds of mist collected around the mountaintops this morning. I elect to start the walk at temple number 4, Furue-an, as it is right next door to the minshuku I am staying at for these first few days of my walk.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.
Furue-an is a small building right on the water with the ubiquitous meter-high concrete wall separating it from the sea. It's an uninhabited site, really just a wayside chapel and so it's locked up and nobody about. In front a line of 33 statues, each one representing a Kannon on the famous Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. I have a quick look around the small shrine next door and then I follow the small coast road down the peninsula and watch the caps of mist on the mountains across the water lose their pink tinge and shrink and disappear.

After about a kilometer the peninsula narrows to just a few hundred meters and I cross over to the other coast and the little fishing village of Horikoshi. The road along the water's edge, protected of course by a meter high concrete wall, is lined with wooden buildings covered with dark, weathered wood, broken by a few doors of the same wood, but with no windows.

For protection the village turns its back to the sea. I find the next temple, number 5, Horikoshi-an, up some winding lanes where the village climbs the hillside. Like number 4 it is located right next to the small village shrine. The suffix -an on a temple name could be translated as "hermitage", which means that rather than being a full-fledged temple it is somewhere that historically a nun or monk lived.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

There is a honzon, a statue of the deity enshrined here, and often there will be a bronze bell, but usually not much more. The next stop is further down the peninsula, and I have several possible routes. There is a narrow road from here along the south coast. A couple of years ago it was closed by a landslide, and it may or may not have been repaired, or, I can backtrack half a kilometer and take the main road along the north coast.

The decision is made for me, a third way. There are about half a dozen small signs in front of Horikoshi-an pointing along a path that leads up the hillside. The most direct route, over the mountain. The path passes by some tiny vegetable plots before entering the forest. The path is covered with fallen leaves and steep enough to have a handrail.

I am no great fan of climbing hills or of walking uphill in general, but in Japan there is no choice. I climb and climb, thankful that I only have about 150 meters to ascend. When I get to the pass I am delighted to have been directed this way. It's magical.

Thin mist still hovers in the trees and the sunlight floods the forest with golden shafts. Here at the pass is a small Jizo statue in its own shelter. Every pass used to have one. Back in the day, not too long ago, when Japanese walked everywhere, there were hundreds of trails like this with a Jizo at the pass.

I wonder how many are now all alone where a path used to be, long since overgrown. As the trail descends the forest becomes bamboo. A narrow corridor through dense bamboo. Part way down I cross a stream and here are a couple of Fudo Myo statues.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

The bamboo becomes thicker still and curiously there is a an overhead lattice of bamboo that has snapped and fallen horizontal. The corridor has become a tunnel until I emerge into the sunlight at the top of the fishing village of Tanoura.

Tanoura-an, number 6 on the pilgrimage, is at the top of the village, right next to the village shrine and a huge tree trunk, obviously an old Gingko tree that died. A largish Jizo statue wearing multiple bibs and a couple of caps is in front of the small hall. This is a wart-removing Jizo and people will come some distance from outside the village to make an offering in the hope of having warts disappear.

Down at the waterfront I stop in at an old, wooden schoolhouse. It closed in 1971, but is open as a tourist attraction as this is where one of the most popular Japanese movies ever was filmed. 24 Eyes is not as well known outside Japan as other movies of the 50's, but many Japanese tourists will come to Shodoshima because of it.

The pilgrimage route now heads back up the peninsula to where I started but first I take a little one kilometer detour down to the 24 Eyes Movie Village, a major tourist destination built on what was the movie set for a remake of 24 Eyes.

Not being a big fan of the movie, unlike most of the visitors, I'm not all that impressed, so after taking a bunch of photos I leave and stop in at a little eating establishment just outside the entrance. I order a curry rice and it comes topped with three small, green olives. Shodoshima is the olive growing capital of Japan and has become the prime identity of the island, so I suspect I will be finding more meals with added olives. After a coffee I head off up the road past a bus shelter made from an old soy sauce brewing barrel. Soy sauce is the next most famous product of the island.

© JapanVisitor.com

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1 Feb
徳島駅

JR Tokushima Station in Tokushima, Shikoku, is a major railway station in Shikoku. The large, modern station building houses the Clement Plaza with numerous stores and a restaurant floor. There are a number of business hotels and car rental outlets close to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.
Tokushima Station is on the Tokushima, Kotoku, Mugi and Naruto lines. The Kotoku Line connects Tokushima with Takamatsu Station to the north west. The Mugi Line runs from Tokushima about 80km to Kaifu. The Tokushima Line links Tokushima with Awa-Ikeda. The Naruto Line runs from Ikenotani Station to Naruto Station in Naruto with trains connecting through to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.
Places to stay within easy access of Tokushima Station Station include the four-star Hotel Clement, the three-star Daiwa Roynet Hotel Tokushima Ekimae, the APA Hotel Tokushima Ekimae and the Tokushima Tokyu REI Hotel.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

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2 Feb
今週の日本

Japan News.
Japanese End Drought in Sumo Wrestling, Their National Sport
New York Times

Ford pulls out of Japan and Indonesia
BBC

Japan begins work on 'world's largest' floating solar farm
Guardian

In Philippines visit, Emperor asks youth to keep memories of World War II alive
Japan Times

Muddy River
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Japan's most notorious yakuza organized group is in deep decline. Membership has fallen below 10,000 in the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Kobe-based and nation's largest mafia group. In the early 1960s, membership topped 50,000.

An internal split in the Yamaguchi group last summer - a breakaway group in Nagoya took members from the main organization in Kobe - resulted in the drastic decrease.

What this portends for pubic safety remains to be seen.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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29 Jan
キャプテンライン

The Capt.Line is a high-speed ferry service that shuttles between the Kaiyukan West Pier at Osaka's Kaiyukan Aquarium and Universal City Port at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Citywalk Osaka.

Capt.Line Ferry in Osaka, Japan.

The one way fare for an adult (classed here as an over 12 year old) is 700 yen with the return fare 1,300 yen. Visitors can buy a combined ticket with the boat fare and entrance to the Kaiuyukan for 2,700 yen for persons over 16.

The crossing takes just 10 minutes and sailings begin usually at 9.15am from Universal City Port
 and 9.30am except in December when the first boat is at 9.45am from Universal City Port and 10am from the Kaiyukan.

Check the Capt.Line website for further details and exact sailing times.

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28 Jan
桜田濠の工事

For the past few days, the Sakurada Moat (Sakuradabori in Japanese) of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo has had a barge floating in it loaded with all sorts of construction-related equipment.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with barge doing repair work.Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Marunouchi district in background.Looking it up, it seems that this happens every two or three years for the purpose of repairing the stone walls of the moat.

There are numerous moats - 15 to be precise - around the Imperial Palace, excavated during the rule of the first three Tokugawa Shoguns, Ieyasu (1543-1616), Hidetada (1579-1632) and Iemitsu (1604-1651). who inhabited what was then known as Edo Castle.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, plus barge doing repair work.Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Hanzomon district in background.The Sakurada (literally "cherry blossom field") Moat is the moat that goes from about the "6 o'clock" to "9 o'clock" stretch of the perimeter of the Imperial Palace, or, in terms of landmarks, from Sakuradamon Station ("Sakuradamon" meaning "Sakurada Gate," one of the Palace's nine gates) up to about the National Theater of Japan.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with up-close of a barge doing repair work.Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Hanzomon and Kojimachi districts in background.Sakuradamon Gate has a somewhat bloody role in Tokyo history, having been the scene of the assassination of the Chief Minister of State at the time, Ii Naosuke (1815–1860), on March 24 1860 by disaffected samurai who protested his having signed the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United States, thus opening up Japan further to Western influence.

Sakuradamon Gate was also where a disaffected Korean nationalist tried to assassinate the Emperor on January 9 1932 by throwing a grenade at him.

Anyway - to return to the present - Sakuradamon Moat is currently a scene of great activity, as the photos show, complete with divers.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with two divers doing repair work.Divers in Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, doing repair work on the stone walls of the moat.© JapanVisitor.com

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27 Jan
The large glass branch of Starbucks overlooking the water at Fugan Canal Kansui Park in Toyama was voted the world's most attractive Starbucks by design in 2008.

Toyama Starbucks at Fugan Canal Kansui Park.
Visitors can gaze out over Tenmon Bridge from either behind the large glass windows or from the outdoor terrace. The store is a wireless hotspot.

Fugan Canal Kansui Park is a short walk north from Toyama Station.

Toyama Starbucks, Toyama Prefecture, Hokuriku, Japan.

Kansui Park Starbucks
Kansui Park, 5 Toyama Fugan Canal
Minatoirifunecho
Toyama-shi, Toyama Prefecture 930-0805
Tel: 076 439 2630
Hours: 8am-10.30pm

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26 Jan
松山市駅

Matsuyama-shi Station (aka Matsuyama City Station or "shieki") is the other major railway station in Matsuyama city in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku along with JR Matsuyama Station.

Matsuyama-shi Station, Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan.
Matsuyama-shi Station is nearer to the center of town and its attractions including Matsuyama Castle and is a much more imposing structure than JR Matsuyama Station as it is built into a large Takashimaya department store with a Ferris Wheel on top and the underground shopping arcade Matsuchika Town below. Matsuyama-shi Station is also the older of the two stations having opened in 1888.

Matsuyama City Station is the terminus for rail, tram, and bus services of Iyo Railway (Iyotetsudo), the first private railway company to operate on Shikoku and the third private railway to run trains in Japan.

Matsuyama-shi Station in Matsuyama city, Shikoku Island.
Matsuyama-shi Station has Iyotetsudo trains running on three lines. The 9.4km Takahama Line to Takahama, the 13.2km line to Yokogawara and the 10.7km Gunchu Line to Gunchuko (Gunchu Port).

Matsuyama City Station is also a station on three of Iyotetsudo's five tram lines that circuit the city. The next stop from Matsuyama City Station, Minami-Horibata is on all five lines. The lines are 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. There is no line 4, as 4 is considered an unlucky number.

Highway buses also run from outside Matsuyama City Station to Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Fukuyama, Kochi, Takamatsu and Tokushima. Local Iyotetsudo buses run within the city.

Iyotetsudo also operates the Botchan Ressha, a tourist steam train that runs out to Dogo Onsen. The small steam engines were imported from Germany and were in use from 1887 to 1954. They have now been reintroduced as a tourist attraction and are called Botchan as they are mentioned in Natsume Soseki's novel of that name.

Botchan Steam Train Matsuyama, Shikoku
Iyotetsudo also has airport limousine buses to Matsuyama Airport (410 yen; 23 minutes) and Matsuyama Tourist (Ferry) Port (510 yen; 26 minutes). A one day tram pass is 500 yen.

Iyotetsu Route Map (showing tram, rail and bus routes)

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25 Jan
さっぽろ雪まつり

The Sapporo Snow Festival begins on February 5th and runs until February 11th again this year, with snow slide and snow rafting activities continuing this year at the Tsudome Community Dome site until February 18th.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2016, Hokkaido.

This year is the 67th Sapporo Snow Festival, which has its origins back in 1950 when local high school students made six impromptu snow and ice sculptures in the city's Odori Park. In 1955, the Japanese Self Defense Forces helped out to make the large ice sculptures seen today.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

The main venues to see the ice and snow sculptures are: Odori Park, Tsudome Community Dome and Susukino - the major entertainment and commercial area of Sapporo, south of Sapporo Station. The sculptures at Odori Park are illuminated until 10pm every evening, while those in Susukino continue lit until 11pm.

Among this year's over 200 ice sculptures are ice replicas of the Hokkaido Shinkansen Rail Line due to open on 26 March 2016, plus other attractions in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region of Japan including the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses and pentagon-shaped Goryokaku fortress in Hakodate, the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, Hirosaki Castle and the Enburi folk dance in Hachinohe.

Internationally-themed ice sculptures include the Globe Theatre in London where William's Shakespeare's plays were performed. From Taiwan there are sculptures of The Queen's Head rock in Yehliu Geopark in Wanli District in New Taipei City and the Pingxi Police Box, a modern new attraction that is lit with 1000's of LEDs. Another large ice sculpture captures the magnificent facade of the former Jesuit Cathedral of Sao Paulo in Macau. Finally don't miss the ice sculptures of popular characters from the anime series Dragon Ball Super.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

As well as the amazing ice sculptures, other entertainments include an "Ice Queen" contest in Susukino, an international ice sculpture festival with around a dozen teams from such nations as USA (Hawaii & Portland), Korea (Daejeon), Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Poland, snow slides, ice mazes and lots of great Hokkaido food and drink such as hot potatoes, seafood and Sapporo ramen.

Around 2 million visitors are expected to attend this year's event. 2.4 million attended the Sapporo Snow Festival in 2014.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2016 (Official Site in Japanese, Chinese, Korean & English)
Tel: 011 211 2376


Sapporo Snow Festival 2010
© JapanVisitor

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The Japanese Spa: A Guide to Japan's Finest Ryokan and Onsen
28 Jan
今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Economy Minister Fights Accusations of Selling Favors
New York Times

Japan plans certification scheme for chefs abroad
BBC

Star of dolphin-hunting film The Cove to be deported from Japan
Guardian

Takata air-bag recalls expand after 10th death reported
Japan Times

Battle Stations—Okinawa in 2016
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

In Japan, "the number of people who filed applications for asylum in 2015 jumped nearly 50 percent to a record 7,586, but the government recognized only 27 refugees, the Justice Ministry said Friday."

That is a 0.0035% success rate.

Source: Japan Times

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28 Jan
秋葉原の店員対応がよくなっているか

Akihabara, Tokyo, by night.Akihabara by nightAkihabara is an area of Tokyo that showcases much of what has made Japan successful. Forget about cars for a minute (which are all about the city of Nagoya), and Akihabara rules with its emporiums and specialist stores dedicated not only to the electronic goods and home appliances that Japan began excelling in in the 1960s, but also to the games and manga-related goods that have given Japan a "cool" sheen over the past couple of decades.

The manga-related aspect, in particular, of Akihabara draws hordes of young customers who know all they need to know about the products they're after before they go there and for whom the careful, conscientious kind of service that their parents might look for is not as important as price.

With little demand for department-store-style service, Akihabara is therefore marked by a distinct lack of it, with service - even in most of the emporiums - marked by half-heartedness, distractedness and brusqueness.

However, over the past year and a half I think I have come to notice some changes. One major change that anyone can notice is the huge increase in the number of customers from China.

Akihabara, Tokyo, by night, with Sofmap at right. Akihabara by night, with Sofmap at right. Even for tourists from mainland China, buying goods in Japan and taking them home is often a cheaper option than buying them in China, and the vaunted quality of Japanese products is another big selling point. So, like the nearby classy shopping street of Ginza, Chinese is just as much heard on Akihabara's streets as Japanese. And with that, the number of stores in Akihabara with Chinese-speaking staff has also increased markedly.

This is just as well for Akihabara, because, like bricks and mortar stores everywhere, they are feeling the effects of online competition, with stores attracting fewer Japanese customers.

With a need to create a reputation among Chinese buyers, and the need to attract Japanese customers who are generally more inclined to shop from home, all-round levels of customer-friendliness also seem to be rising in what was once "take it or leave it" Akihabara. There is less passive aggression, less brusqueness of manner, more attentiveness and more conscientiousness.

Sofmap is one big Akihabara chain that has mostly been an exception to the area's reputation for bad service. Service at Sofmap stores has generally been good from as far back as I can remember, but other stores, including Sofmap's biggest competitor in Akihabara, seem to be pulling their socks up too when it comes to service


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26 Jan
松山駅

Matsuyama Station in Matsuyama, Ehime, Shikoku is on the JR Yosan Line from Takamatsu Station in Takamatsu. The Shiokaze Express runs through to Okayama on Honshu and takes three hours. Ishizuchi Express trains to Takamatsu take two hours and 30 minutes approximately.

From Matsuyama Station trains run south east to Uwajima.

Matsuyama Station, Shikoku.
Iyotetsu trams run from outside the station to Matsuyamashi Station. There are a number of hotels near Matsuyama Station including the Hotel Sunroute Matsuyama, Business Hotel Mimachi, Guest House Casablanca, Terminal Hotel Matsuyama and the New Kajiwara Hotel.

Matsuyama Castle in Shiroyama Park is directly west of Matsuyama Station. Take an Iyotetsu Line tram to the Keisatsucho-mae stop for the ropeway.

Matsuyama Station, Shikoku.

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18 Jan
土渕海峡

There is something quite appealing about trivia of superlatives: the biggest, the longest, the fastest, etc. For me at least, these little factoids tend to accumulate in my memory.

Dobuchi Strait Shodoshima.

Of course the biggest and best source for such matters is the famous Guinness Book of World Records, and on my recent visit to the island of Shodoshima, the second biggest island in the Seto Inland Sea, I was able to see one natural feature holding a world record, the narrowest navigable strait in the world, Dobuchi Strait.

Dobuchi Strait Shodoshima.

At first glance on a map Shodoshima appears to be a single island, but is in fact two. The main town of the island is actually spread across two islands, Shodoshima and Maejima. Separating the two is Dobuchi Strait.

The length is about 2.5 kilometers, but the channel narrows to less than ten meters in the middle of the town, less than many rivers. This narrow section has a series of tubular steel arches over it and at night is illuminated. For a 100 yen fee you can go the nearby Town Hall and receive an official certificate commemorating your "crossing" of the strait.

 559-2 Ko, Tonosho-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa-ken 761-4192

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21 Jan
今週の日本

Japan News.
Creating a Cuteness Empire in Japan, One Fuzzy Bear Suit at a Time
New York Times

Japan gripped by fate of pop group SMAP
BBC

American author's striking account of Chinese guerilla warfare
Guardian

Japan ‘sponsorship money’ to IAAF may have swayed 2020 Games bid decision: report
Japan Times

Reclamation, Licensing, and the Law: Japan’s Courts Take Up the Henoko Base Issue
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Kyoto is among many things a college town. At its 26 colleges and universities, there are 143,172 students, or roughly 10% of the population of the city. That is the highest number of students of any Japanese city.

The number two city is Nagoya, which has 96,108 students.

Bronze medal goes to Yokohama with 82,517. Both of those cities are larger than Kyoto in terms of population.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

Criminal offenses in Japan continue to plummet. The total of such offenses in 2015 was 1,099,048, which was a 9.3% decrease from the previous year. It is also the lowest total since the of World War II.

The crime occurrence rate - number of reported crimes per 1,000 people - fell to a record low of 8.65. In 2002, it was 22.39.

Source: Jiji Press


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14 Jan
言わんばかりに 言わんとする


 The Japanese like to think of themselves as a particularly intuitive people when it comes to communication, relying as much, or more, on subtle visual cues as on spoken words, and on implied meanings as on explicit statements.

Two phrases that reflect this attitude are iwantosuru 言わんとする and iwanbakari いわんばかり. (The "i" of "iwan" is the kanji 言, which refers to speech, speaking, saying. iu 言う is the verb "to say." The negative form of the verb is iwanai 言わない, and iwan 言わん is an abbreviation of that, dropping the final "ai.")

iwantosuru means what one is trying to say, which, as we all know, is not what necessarily comes across to the other person. What we are trying to say may not be conveyed for one of several reasons: poor choice of words on the speaker's part, poor understanding on the listener's part, or ambient factors such as noisiness. All of these are covered by iwantosuru.

言わんとする事はわからない。
Iwantosuru koto wa wakaranai.
(I) don't know what (you're) saying/trying to say.

僕の言わんとすることを先んじて言った
Boku no iwantosuru koto o sakijinte itta.
He came out with what I was trying/going to say before I even said it.

Then there is the similar phrase, iwanbakari 言わんばかり, which refers to even more intuitive communication, i.e., reading people's physical cues without their necessarily having said anything at all. iwanbakari can be translated as "as if to say; as much as to say; as though." For example:

愛しているよと言わんばかりに目を見てくれた。
Ai shiteiru yo to iwanbakari ni me o mite kureta.
He looked me in the eye as if to say he loved me.

帰れと言わんばかりに対応された。
Kaere to iwanbakari ni taiou sareta.
I was as good as told to leave.

So, the next time you're not sure what to say in Japanese, just iwanbakari ni itte yo (say it without saying it)!





More about learning the Japanese language.

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13 Jan
高知駅

Kochi Station in Kochi city in Shikoku is a train station on the JR Dosan Line. The JR Dosan Line runs from Tadotsu Station in Kagawa prefecture, which connects with the Yosan Line and Seto-Ohashi Line for services to Kurashiki and Okayama on Honshu and Kubokawa Station in western Kochi prefecture.

A direct Nanpu express train from Okayama to Kochi takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Kochi Station, Shikoku.
To your right as you exit Kochi Station is one terminus of the Tosaden Kotsu Sanbashi Line, a tram (streetcar line) which runs 3.2km south to Sanbashi-dori-go-chome and is useful for getting to Kochi Castle and the downtown area of Kochi.

Kochi Station, Shikoku.
There are a number of affordable hotels near Kochi Station including the Kochi Pacific Hotel, the Comfort Hotel Kochi and the Hotel Mintoya. Staying in this area allows easy access to the streetcar and JR trains.

Kochi Station, Shikoku.

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12 Jan
みさき

Misaki is a traditional minshuku located on the waterfront in the fishing village of Furue in the south east of Shodoshima Island. The eight guest rooms are located in a fairly new but traditional house with dining room and bathrooms in the building right next door where the proprietors live.

Misaki Guest House Shodoshima, Kagawa.

The rooms are spacious and clean and include the standard facilities: telephone, TV, hot water for tea and yukata etc. Toilets and washing areas are on both floors. There is wifi in the next building that can be reached from the entrance hall. I stayed sudomari, without meals but they have a good reputation for the food served. The bathrooms are onsen-style, made of stone, and onsen temperature.

Misaki is ideally situated to access the tourist attractions in that part of the island, the 24 Eyes Movie Village is just 4km away, The Soy Sauce District and museum 2km away, and the starting temples of the Shodoshima Pilgrimage are on the nearby mountainside. Sakate Port and its car ferry from Kobe is a 2 minute drive away and the ferry from Takamatsu at Kusakabe Port is a 10 minute drive. The local bus service to all parts of the island is a 2 minute walk.

Misaki Guest House Shodoshima, Kagawa Prefecture.

Misaki Guest House
156-13 Furue, Shozu, Shodoshima, Kagawa 761-4422
Tel: 0879 82 1332

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30 Jan
成人式

Today is seijin-no-hi or Adult's Day also known as Coming of Age Day. Adult's Day falls on the second Monday in January and is a national holiday in Japan.

Adult's Day or Seijin no Hi.

Coming of Age ceremonies are held in public halls all over Japan for young 20-year-olds reaching adulthood, legally enabling them to marry without their parents' consent, drive, gamble, smoke, drink and other freedoms.

The voting age has been lowered from 20 to 18 and 18-year-olds will vote for the first time in Upper House elections next summer.

Adult's Day or Seijin no Hi.

Young Japanese women parade in their finest kimono while young men wear western suits or occasionally traditional Japanese hakama and haori.

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15 Jan
今週の日本

Japan News.
From Japan, With Style
New York Times

Japan tuna nets a high bid at new year Tokyo auction
BBC

Great white shark dies after three days in captivity in Japan
Guardian

Kensuke Miyazaki to become first ever Japanese MP to take paternity leave
(Editor's note: this article fails to note that Miyazaki's paternity leave is for just one month - what many in Japan have called a meaningless political stunt whose only purpose is to further his and his wife's political careers. Moreover, the article's claim that "Currently, women on average earn 70% of a man’s salary for the same work, placing it a lowly 104th out of 142 countries In the World Economic Forum’s 2014 global gender gap index" is true but oversimple. The global gender gap index is compiled using 14 main criteria, one of which is an estimated comparison of income.)
Guardian

Tokyo joins Washington in doubting Pyongyang H-bomb claim
Japan Times

War Crimes in Japan-Occupied Indonesia: Unraveling the Persecution of Achmad Mochtar 
Japan Focus

Tokyo police use flying net to capture illicit UAVs
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

International ranking of countries in terms of corruptions, 2014. "The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be...This year's index includes 175 countries and territories."

1) Denmark
2) New Zealand
3) Finland
4) Sweden
5) Norway
5) Switzerland
7) Singapore
8) Netherlands
9) Luxembourg
10) Canada
11) Australia
12) Germany
12) Iceland
14) United Kingdom
15) Belgium
15) Japan
17) Barbados
17) Hong Kong
17) USA

43) South Korea

100) China

Source: Transparency International


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9 Jan
高岡市立博物館

The Takaoka Municipal Museum is located in Kojo Park, the old castle area of Takaoka in Toyama prefecture.

Takaoka Municipal Museum, Takaoka, Toyama prefecture.

The three-story Takaoka Municipal Museum, which opened in 1970, has exhibits on the history of Takaoka Castle, famous people from Takaoka city and traditional arts and crafts from the area. Takaoka is particularly well-known for its lacquer work and metal work. The latter symbolized by the Great Buddha of Takaoka which is made from copper.

The museum's mascot is "Toshinaga-kun" after Maeda Toshinaga (1562-1614), the second head of the Kaga domain, who ruled his rich fief from nearby Kanazawa Castle.

Takaoka Municipal Museum, Takaoka, Toyama prefecture

Takaoka Municipal Museum
1-5 Kojyo, Takaoka-shi, Toyama 933-0044
Tel: 0766 20 1572
Admission: free
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Monday or the next day if Monday is a public holiday.
Access: Take a Kaetsuno bus for Shimin-hospital/Syokuan-mae from JR Takaoka Station on the JR Hokuriku Line and alight at Ote-machi bus stop, from where the museum is a  5-minute walk.

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7 Jan
丸の内シャトル

The free Marunouchi Shuttle Bus runs a loop of 13 stops around the Marunouchi area of Tokyo around Tokyo Station from 10am to 8pm. The bus is sponsored by local businesses and runs about every 15 minutes.

Marunouchi Shuttle Bus, Tokyo, Japan.

The shorter Otemachi route (weekdays only) with 6 stops operates from 8am-10pm. Stops on the Marunouchi Shuttle eco-bus include Yusen Biru, Marunouchi My Plaza, Tokyo Kaikan, Daiichi Seimei, Hibiya, Shinkokusai Biru, Mitsubishi Biru, Shinmaru Biru, Tokyo Sankei Biru, Nikkei Biru, Keidanren Kaiken JA Biru, and Yomiuri Shimbun.


marunouchi.mec.co.jp

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5 Jan
富山駅のホテル

There are a number of good hotels near Toyama Station. This is the best place to stay if you wish to explore the Hokuriku region including Takaoka, Kanazawa, Wajima and Gokayama. You are right at the station for buses, trains and rental car outlets for onward exploring.

Relax Hotel, Hotels Near Toyama Station.
Relax Inn Toyama (1-7-22 Sakuramachi, Toyama 930-0003) is an affordable and comfortable business hotel just five minutes from Toyama Station.

Hotels Near Toyama Station, Toyama Prefecture.
APA Villa Hotel Toyamaekimae has flat-screen TV and wired internet access in all its rooms. Other facilities at the APA Villa Hotel Toyamaekimae include a microwave and an ice machine in the public areas. The air-conditioned rooms have a work desk and a fridge.


The Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu has 210 rooms with in-room flat-screen TVs and free wired internet. Toyama Excel is just a 3-minute walk from JR Toyama Station. It offers massage services and a daily buffet breakfast with fresh fruits.

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7 Jan
今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over Wartime ‘Comfort Women’
New York Times

'Comfort women': Taiwan tells Japan to extend compensation
BBC

The Guardian view on Japan, South Korea and ‘comfort women’: one step towards healing the wounds of the past
Guardian

Famed Japan scholar Donald Keene, 93, reflects on golden era as he pens works from Tokyo home documents
Japan Times

Forgotten voices from the Great War: the Chinese Labour Corps
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Japan ranks sixth in overall well-being of children, but 21st in material well-being. According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, "While Japan ranked top in education and behavior and risks in daily life, it ranked tenth in housing and environment, 16th in health and safety and 21st in material well-being. The results demonstrate the extent of child poverty in Japan."

1) Finland
2) Netherlands
3) Denmark
4) Iceland
5) Norway
6) Slovenia
7) Sweden
8) Austria
9) Ireland
10) Switzerland, Germany

14) United Kingdom

22) Japan

29) Bulgaria
30) USA
31) Romania

Source: JFS


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