J-FEED
SERVICES

ALSO AVAILABLE ON iPAD

Japan Visitor

What's happening in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Shimane Japan, updates on sightseeing, museums, temples, shrines and Japan news.
29 Oct
労働者派遣法の改悪阻止を求める国会前座り込み行動

Today, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC) is organizing a sit-in outside the Second Members' Office Building of the House of Representatives (i.e. the Upper House of the Japanese Diet) in Tokyo's Nagatacho to stage a sit-in protest against amendments to the Worker Dispatch Law, currently under consideration by the Upper House.

JTUC sit-in protest outside the Upper House of the Japanese Diet in Tokyo.JTUC sit-in protest outside the Upper House of the Japanese Diet

Under the slogan of "Stop a society marked by disparity" (this being a somewhat longwinded translation by this blogger of the more compact "ストップ・ザ・格差社会!"), members of various unions gathered from 9 a.m. this morning under the JTUC banner to mark their opposition to the bill going ahead.

JTUC sit-in protest outside the Japanese Diet Upper House, Nagatacho, Tokyo.
The protest is scheduled to last until 4 p.m. Busloads of protesters were being brought in this morning. Under the crisp blue autumn sky sat crowds of sitters in with scores of banners, an orator with a loudspeaker, and a quietly optimistic-looking atmosphere. Notably, the police presence was not strong at all.



© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
29 Oct
A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 43, Hitoyoshi to Setoishi Wednesday November 27th, 2013

The forecast is for a fine day, but the river valley is filled with mist so there is no way of knowing what's above it. Today I will be heading down the river towards the coast at Yatsushiro, and whenever I finish walking I will take a train into Yatsushiro and come back out tomorrow.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 43 Hitoyoshi to Setoishi


For the first few kilometers I take the main road along the river but once I reach the bridge just past Watari I cross over to the west bank and follow the much quieter road that follows the rail line.

The mist gradually burns off and clings to the mountainsides and reveals the promise of another fine day. The river and its valley remind me somewhat of the valley I live in in West Japan, though there are more faster sections that roar with white noise. Certainly it would be a more exciting boat ride than I took yesterday. I pass through several small, quiet settlements and stop in at a few shrines and small Buddhist chapels.

On the far bank the main road is busy with traffic. Further down the road I spy what appears to be a huge pole with a distinctly phallic shape to its tip, once I reach it I am delighted to discover it marks a small fertility shrine, one of the things that I am always on the lookout for in my wanderings around the backwaters of Japan.

The small hut contains about 20 phalli, left as prayers for pregnancy. This more than makes up for my disappointment at not being able to visit a fertility shrine a few days ago up at the top end of the valley. Another hour and I can make out an unusual structure perched on the mountainside of the opposite bank. A cluster of cylinders with domed roofs, it looks a little like a mosque, but by my estimation it is roughly where a big cave is located.

As I get closer I pass through a "vacation village", a series of cabins available for rent along the riverside. They are all closed up now as it is out of season. 2 of the cabins are really unusual, both part of the Kumamoto Artpolis project that puts innovative architecture in communities around the prefecture.

I'm really surprised by how small the two structures are, literally small cabins, but that is because when I had seen photos of them before the photos made them appear much larger.

It is a shame I can't get inside them. From here a small suspension bridge goes over the river and a trail heads up the cliff. There is a small chairlift, but its all closed up.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 43 Hitoyoshi to Setoishi

On top, across the main road is the entrance to a cave, Kyusendo, and I pay my entrance fee and enter. I like caves, and this one is OK, but I would probably rate it as the least interesting of all the ones I've visited in Japan.

There is not much in the way of stalagmites or stalactites, though there is a Bat Cave, but for obvious reasons it's not accessible to the public. Back outside the cave I learn that the domed structure across the road that I had seen coming down the valley is a museum.

Like many such museums in Japan it has a curious mix of exhibits. This one focuses on the local forest and Thomas Edison. As far as I can tell there is absolutely no connection between Edison and this area and can only presume that it was the brainchild of a bureaucrat or local politician.

I choose not to visit and instead go back down and cross back over to the other bank and continue on my way. The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful, though the noise of the river was a nice accompaniment to my musings.

Gradually it clouded over. After a couple of hours I called it a day and caught a train into Yatsushiro where I had found a good deal on a room. Tomorrow I will take the train back to where I stopped walking and finish the journey into Yatsushiro.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 42

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Two Women Exit Japan’s Cabinet, in Crisis for Abe
New York Times

Media slam Japan over 'comfort women' denial
BBC

Japan’s industry minister’s staff spent money at sex bar
Guardian

Cutting-edge inventions showcased at Tokyo future-tech expo
Japan Times

Chinese Fishermen in Troubled Waters
The Diplomat

“If we don’t face our past, we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes.” Japanese wartime medical orderly reports on army’s role in maintaining “comfort women” system 「やっぱりね、過去をちゃんと見てないものは、また同じことを始める」慰安所と日本軍の関わりについてある衛生兵が報告
Japan Focus

Okinawa: Why They Chose Death
The New York Review of Books

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Workers who toil more than 50 hours per week on average.

Japan: 31.7%
South Korea: 27.7%
Australia: 14.1%
UK: 12.1%
USA: 11.1%
France: 9%
Norway: 2.8%
Netherlands: 0.7%

Source: Asahi Shinbun (OECD data)

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
23 Oct
三岐鉄道北勢線

The Sangi Railway Hokusei Line which runs 20km within Mie Prefecture from Nishi Kuwana Station in Kuwana to Ageki Station in Inabe is a Japanese trainspotters' delight.

The Hokusei Line is a 762mm narrow gauge railway that gives the carriages a "toy-train" feel.

Sangi Railway Hokusei Line train

Like the Yoro Line to Ogaki that also has a terminus at Kuwana, the Hokusei Line was previously owned by Kintetsu Railways until 2003.

The service between Nishi Kuwana and Ageki is a local one that stops at every station and is driver only with no conductor. There are two trains an hour increasing to three at peak times.

The complete list of stations on the Hokusei Line is: Nishi Kuwana (西桑名), Umamichi (馬道), Nishi Bessho (西別所), Rengeji (蓮花寺), Ariyoshi (在良), Hoshikawa (星川), Nanawa (七和), Ano (穴太), Toin (東員), Oizumi (大泉), Sohara (楚原), Oda (麻生田) and Ageki (阿下喜).

Sangi Railway Hokusei Line train at Nishi Kuwana

There are only four 762mm narrow gauge railways in Japan and the Hokusei Line is the longest. The others are the Kintetsu Utsube Line and Kintetsu Hachioji Line (both in Mie Prefecture near Yokkaichi) and the Kurobe Gorge Railway in Toyama Prefecture.

Places of interest near to Hokusei Line stations include Hashiri Izun Temple near Umamichi Station, the first stop from Nishi Kuwana, about 1km away.

Nishi Kuwana Station, Mie Prefecture

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
22 Oct
えちぜん鉄道

The Echizen Railway in Fukui has two lines: the Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line (color code orange) and the Mikuni-Awara Line (blue).

Echizen Railway train at Fukui Station
The Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line runs from Echizen Railway Fukui Station, just outside the East Exit of Fukui Station to the terminus at Katsuyama, where there are buses to the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.

Although the bus service to Eiheiji Temple is more direct you can change at Eiheiji-guchi and transfer to a bus to visit the famous Zen temple.

Katsuyama Station has been restored to its former glories and the pretty, timber-framed building now hosts a cafe looking out on to the platform.

Echizen Railway Fukui Station
The Mikuni-Awara Line runs 28km from Echizen Railway Fukui Station to Mikuni-Minato Station in Sakai. The inbound services to Fukui Station are timed to connect with Hokuriku Express trains from JR Fukui Station.

Echizen Railway Katsuyama Station Fukui Japan
The Echizen Railway is something of a step back in time and should be a treat for fans of Japanese railways. Each train has a (male) driver and (female) attendant (pictured above) in a division of the sexes fairly typical of Japanese society as a whole.

Echizen Railway Katsuyama Station Fukui
The Echizen Railway Mikuni-Awara Line connects with the Fukubu tram line at Tawaramachi Station.

Echizen RailwayClick to enlarge
The Echizen Railway was previously operated by Kyoto-based Keifuku Electric Railway until ownership was transferred to Echizen Railway after a couple of accidents on the line in 2001.

Echizen Railway

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
20 Oct
I took part on Saturday in a hands-on photo tour called "Tradition and Modernity" organized by eyexploretokyo photo tours.

Japanese couple with parasol in Hamarikyu Park, Tokyo.
I had actually booked a couple of weeks beforehand for the eyexploretokyo "People and Streets" tour that took groups of aspiring tourist/photographers through the streets of Harajuku, but Typhoon Phanfone put paid to that.

"Tradition and Modernity" began in Tokyo's beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens, which is ideal for the theme given its deeply traditional landscaping and examples of Japanese architecture against a not-so-distant backdrop of very modern skyscrapers that almost surround the park.

Inside Hamarikyu Park, Tokyo.

Magnus, our tour guide, is a professional photographer, originally from Germany and now based in Japan. "Tradition" obviously being of the Japanese variety, we were encouraged to draw on Japanese aesthetic traditions in composing our photos. Our guide not only gave examples, but provided clear and constructive feedback on the photos we took. Comparing what we had taken with what he had taken, and with shots by other participants, too, was a valuable learning experience in itself.

Shiodome City Center building, Tokyo, taken on an eyexploretokyo photo tour.

The afternoon sun on the park gave way to dusk, and we were encouraged to take advantage of the changing light to capture scenes creatively and memorably.

We then walked to nearby Shinbashi station, through a cluster of skyscrapers, which we spent further time photographing more in the "modernity" vein. The next stop was Yurakucho, a warren of darkly lit underpaths and alleys that feature tiny Japanese-style pubs and snack stalls - evocative of the movie Bladerunner which drew very much on this tradition-modernity dichotomy for its effect.

eyexploretokyo guide, Magnus, in Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan.Our expert eyexploretokyo guide, Magnus, in foreground
I appreciated in particular the handy hints regarding aperture and speed settings for the dingy conditions we were shooting in, and found a touch of new-found confidence operating in manual mode.

Colorful advertising in a Yamanote line train, Tokyo.
The group then moved on to the brand-new, super-modern Kitte building in Marunouchi, from whose outdoor balcony we finished up with more night shots, of the recently, and beautifully, renovated Tokyo Station, in all its redbrick grandeur complete with restored cupolas.

Raamen shop underneath Yurakucho station, Tokyo.

The above shots are from my own "best of" on the day which, thanks to eyexploretokyo, represent a far better outcome than my usual unreflective solitary pointing and shooting.


Recently restored Tokyo Station by night.
I heartily recommend one of these tours to anyone in Tokyo, resident or tourist. This tour opened this long-term Tokyo resident's eyes to new aspects of Tokyo's charm, mystery and beauty ... in expert hands, in great company, and with some beautiful shots to show for it.

eyexploretokyo website (check out the eyexploretokyo Facebook page too)


© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
29 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan, Seeking Revision of Report on Wartime Brothels, Is Rebuffed
New York Times

Typhoon Vongfong injures dozens in Japan
BBC

South Korea urged to drop libel charges against Japanese journalist
Guardian

Reactor safety near Japan’s volcanoes disputed by prominent expert
Japan Times

Japan and Its Neighbors: Shinzo Abe's Northeast Asia Diplomacy
The Diplomat

Democracy's Porous Borders: Espionage, Smuggling and the Making of Japan's Transwar Regime (Part 2) 民主主義の境界は隙だらけ スパイ活動、密輸などで形成された貫戦旗(トランスウォー)体制 (下)
Japan Focus

More than one land of the rising sun
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics


24.9% of Japanese people live with either a cat or a dog making a national total of 11,530,000 dogs and 9,750,000 cats.
Source: Nippon Zenyaku Kogyo Co.,Ltd

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
17 Oct
天文館鹿児島

Tenmonkan in Kagoshima is one of the city's main shopping, entertainment and accommodation districts.

Tenmonkan Kagoshima
Long shotengai covered arcades such as Tenmonkan Hon-dori (Main Street) Arcade and the Tenmonkan G3 Arcade (Sennichi-dori) stretch out from both sides of the main road through the area where the Kagoshima tram runs.

The glass roofed arcades offer shelter from the elements during winter and summer as well as the ash from Sakurajima.

Tenmonkan shotengai arcade Kagoshima Kyushu Japan

The arcades are home to a variety of shops, bakeries, restaurants, cafes and izakaya - Japanese style pubs.

Look out for the delicious anko - azuki bean paste - sweets on sale. From Kagoshima Chuo Station take the street car to the Tenmonkan stop.

Tenmonkan Kagoshima Kyushu Japan
One of the many hotels in the Tenmonkan area is the recommended Richmond Hotel Kagoshima Tenmonkan.

Other places to stay in Tenmonkan, Kagoshima include the Cent Inn Nibankan, the 2-star, budget Hotel New Nishino, the 3-star Sun Days Inn Kagoshima, the Toyoko Inn Kagoshima Tenmonkan No.2, the Kagoshima Plaza Hotel Tenmonkan, the Chisun Inn Kagoshima, the one-star Business Hotel Tenmonkan and the Remm Kagoshima.

Tenmonkan Kagoshima Kyushu Japan

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
平針駅

Hirabari Station is one stop west of Akaike Station, one stop east of Hara Station and two stops east of Ueda Station on the Tsurumai Line of Nagoya subway. Hirabari Station is the nearest subway station to Nagoya Driving License Center and Nagoya Agricultural Center, famous for its plum blossoms in early spring.

Hirabari Station, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

The area around Hirabari Station includes a Piago supermarket open from 10am until 8pm, a pachinko parlor, a branch of the Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ bank, Hirabari Post Office, a Mister Donut outlet, a branch of Osho Gyoza, a Matsuya gyudon fast food restaurant, a B&D discount pharmacy, an ECC language school, and a variety of shops, bars, cafes, clinics, restaurants and izakaya.

Hirabari Station on the Tsurumai subway line

Hirabari Station has full wheelchair access by elevator and a charged bicycle parking lot (100 yen for bicycles). There is a taxi rank at the station.

Hirabari Station bus terminal

Buses from Ueda include the Kan Hongo 1 for Hongo, the Hirabari 11 for Hara Station, the Hirabari 12 for Hirabari Jutaku public housing estate, the Nagoya Driver's License Center, and Tokushige Station and the Tokushige 11 for Tokushige Station on the Sakura-dori subway line.

Very close to Hirabari Station is the large Nagoya Memorial Hospital (Nagoya Kinen Byoin).

© JapanVisitor.com

Yahoo Japan Auction Service
Japanese Friends
Japan Job Search
Rough Guide To Japan
Keywords
Hirabari
Hirabari Station
Subway
Tsurumai Line
Japanese Travel
18 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Japan Protests an Indictment of a Journalist
New York Times

Japan volcano: 12 more found dead
BBC

Giovanni’s Island review – an animated tale of a harrowing postwar exile
Guardian

Failing was fun, Nobel physics laureate says of blue LED quest
Japan Times

In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?
The Diplomat

DEMOCRACY’S POROUS BORDERS: ESPIONAGE, SMUGGLING AND THE MAKING OF JAPAN’S TRANSWAR REGIME (PART 1)
Japan Focus

Japan orders Google to 'forget' a user's past
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

2014 Global AgeWatch Index. The index compares of quality of life in older age possible by nation:

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Switzerland
4. Canada
4. Germany
6. Netherlands
6. Iceland
8. USA
9. Japan
10. New Zealand
11. UK
48. China
50. South Korea

Source: Global AgeWatch

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
名古屋のホームレス

The efforts of Rev. Daniel Rea to address the homeless population in Nagoya, Japan's 4th largest city, include an out-reach to other churches active in the area addressing this pressing social problem, in an effort to co-ordinate a united policy for tackling the issue.

Homelessness in Meijo Koen, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Homelessness is manifestly low on the priorities of policy-makers in Nagoya and Aichi Prefecture as a whole and the problem has been left to churches and local NGO's to provide short-term, make-shift solutions to a social concern crying out for decisive, city-wide governmental action.

We visited the MIR Restoration Church, a short walk from Tokai-dori Station on the Meiko Line from Kanayama Station situated in an area of vast public housing blocks, housing a large proportion of Japanese-Brazilian immigrants.

MIR Restoration Church, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
The MIR Restoration Church provides a now, sadly, run-down shelter for five people behind its main church premises, where homeless men can find accommodation and access day work in local factories and businesses as well as claim state benefits. The building is far from ideal and faces closure from the city authorities, who seek to have the structure condemned as unsafe.

Down the street, the Pentecostal Assembleia de Deus shares premises with a Filipino congregation the Immanuel Christian Fellowship both active in the area for social welfare and care for the disadvantaged.

Immanuel Christian Fellowship, Tokai-dori, Nagoya

Later we visited Meijo Koen, Nagoya's main inner city park, close to the tourist attraction of Nagoya Castle, where a small population of homeless people have moved into the interior of the grounds near the lake, a popular place for cherry blossom viewing in spring. It seems they may have been moved away from the entrances to the park under pressure from the authorities, though this has not been confirmed.

Assembleia de Deus, Tokai-dori, Nagoya, Aichi

© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan Homeless, Homeless, Chubu, Nagoya, Japanese Homeless
28 Oct
Yesterday's eclipse of the moon was, fortunately, visible from Japan and occurred in the evening.

By the time I finished work at about 7 p.m., there was just a bright white sliver, about 1/16 of the moon, at the top of the lunar disk, and as I cycled home over the next half hour it got gradually smaller and smaller until, at about 7:45 p.m., the moon was almost entirely obscured - although still able to be identified by the reddish-brown tinge it had taken on. The color of the eclipse this time earned it the moniker of a "blood moon" - a suitably spooky one for an event so steeped in mystery and superstition.

Eclipse of the moon over Marunouchi, Tokyo.Lunar eclipse over Marunouchi, Tokyo. (Yes, that dot in the sky!)Almost as interesting as the eclipse itself was the reaction it elicited, of contained excitement and intense curiosity among the scores of people at almost every street corner or other vantage point.

Cycling down past the Imperial Palace and through the Marunouchi district, I saw dozens and dozens of mobile phones somewhat futilely pointed at the night sky to record the event (I say futilely, because look at the meager result of mine above, taken on my phone!)

Once home I got out my camera and took a shot of the almost fully eclipsed moon from the balcony looking east. In this somewhat better shot, you can make out the red, fully eclipsed moon quite high in the sky. Below it, in the middle of the photo is the broad "coolly hat" silhouette of the Kokugikan (the headquarters of sumo in Japan) and, right behind it, the Edo Tokyo Museum - both in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo.

Red, fully eclipsed moon over the Kokugikan and Edo Tokyo Museum, Tokyo.Red, fully eclipsed moon in the sky over the Kokugikan and Edo Tokyo Museum, Tokyo.
A lunar eclipse is called a gesshoku 月食 in Japanese, the first kanji being for "moon" and the second for "eat": a colorful rendition of a phenomenon where, indeed, the moon does appear to be being consumed.

Apparently this eclipse is one of only eight tetrads that will happen in the twenty-first century, a tetrad being a set of four eclipses. The first in this current tetrad took place in April, with the next two due to happen on April 4th and September 28th, 2015.

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
名古屋ー福井のバス

The quickest way to get from Nagoya to Fukui is by train. However, though an hour longer in travel time, the highway bus from Nagoya Station is cheaper especially if you buy a fixed return ticket, though it is usually no problem to change the time of your departure at Fukui Station.

Nagoya to Fukui By Highway Bus, Nagoya Station
The highway bus to Fukui leaves from the Taikoguchi Shinkansen exit of Nagoya Station and arrives at the East Exit of Fukui Station. There are various stops on the route including at a highway service station and in Tsuruga and Sabae on the way to Fukui on the Hokuriku Expressway around the eastern side of Lake Biwa.

Taikoguchi Exit Nagoya Highway Bus Ticket Office

Journey time is 3 hours. A single ticket is 3,000 yen with a fixed return 5, 140 yen. By train from Nagoya the quickest journey time without changing is by Shirasagi Limited Express train taking 2 hours, 11 minutes and costing 5,700 yen for a single. Another route is to take a Hikari Shinkansen to Maibara from Nagoya Station and then change to the Shirasagi. Journey time is only 99 minutes and the fare is 6,120 yen.

Nagoya-Fukui Highway Bus at Fukui Station

The highway bus at the Taikoguchi exit of Nagoya Station leaves from stop number 2 where buses depart for Fukui and Kanazawa and less frequently to Kofu and Toyama. Departure times for Fukui are 7.10am, 8.30am, 10am, 11.10am, 1.10pm, 3.10pm, 5.10pm and 7.10pm.

Return buses to Nagoya depart Fukui Station at 7am, 8am, 10.30am, 12.50pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm, 6pm and 7pm.

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan buses
Highway buses
Fukui
Nagoya
Japanese buses
27 Oct
A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 42, Around Hitoyoshi Tuesday November 26th, 2013

I am up at first light. Busy day ahead, not the usual getting from A to B, but crisscrossing the area by foot, boat, and bus.

Hitoyoshi maple leaves and lantern, Kyushu

My first stop is Ganjoji Temple, number 50 on the pilgrimage, which is located just a little to the east of my hotel. There are a few temples clustered together, and plenty of autumn colors on display, so cliché photos are possible.

More interesting than the temple itself is the graveyard on the hillside behind.

Here are buried all the generations of the local lords and their families, so line after line of stone monuments. The ground is a carpet of yellow. Fallen gingko leaves, though they have lost their deep, rich, gold color and are now faded to a pale yellow, but against the reflected blue of the sky in the shadows it is quite vibrant. All quiet sombre.

From here I cross over the river to explore the ruins of the castle. Once again the autumn foliage is out and full so cliched photography has full reign. Down below the castle I am delighted to discover the remnants of what must have been quite a grand garden, and though not as tended as in former times it is still delightful due to the palette of colors.

By now its approaching 9.30am and time to head back over to the other bank of the river and take a boat trip. The Kumagawa is classed as one of the three fastest rivers in Japan.

Relatively speaking, all Japanese rivers are short and fast. Geologically the country is new and so time and erosion have not formed long, slow, wide rivers like the Mississippi or the Nile, nor even like the Thames.

Boat ride, Hitoyoshi, Kyushu, Japan

On the Kumagawa around Hitoyoshi there are two boat ride options, the gentle course, and the wild course.

The gentle course begins in the town and goes downstream to Watari. The wild course begins at Watari but does not operate in the winter months. The boats are traditional cedar river boats with two boatmen, one at the bow and one at the stern.

We passengers sat cross legged. It was a windy day but the 2 hour boat trip was pleasant enough. At times the water was a little deeper and slow and so the boat was poled, and at other times it was fast and noisy as it rushed over the rocks, but not enough to call it whitewater.

There was plenty of bird life, ducks, probably wintering here from Siberia, herons, egrets, cormorants, overhead kites. After getting off the boat we were brought back into Hitoyoshi by shuttle bus and I headed north out of town to the next pilgrimage temple, #52 Takatera-in.

It didn't take long to get out of the town into the countryside, and away from the river the wind was negligible. It was a pleasant, warm, sunny afternoon as I arrived at the temple.

The temple itself is unremarkable, though it has several statues of Bishamonten that are registered as cultural assets, but they are "hidden" from public view.

I climb the old, worn path to the top of the hill to the Okuin, the "inner hall" where the statues would have been before now being stored in the treasure house.

Leaving the temple I stop by the village shrine which is surrounded by scaffolding as it has a brand spanking new roof of thick thatch.

It's nice to see thatch still being used. I head back into town the way I came and then head out west of town to some hills on top of which is the next temple, #53 Kanrenji.

It was the most impressive of all the temples I visited that day, more buildings and statuary, made better by the late afternoon light, horizontal golden shafts articulating everything with deep shadows.

My route back to my room passed right by the Aoi Aso Shrine again so I stopped in for some more quick photos before the light disappeared completely.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 41

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Hirohito: String Puller, Not Puppet
New York Times

Japan volcano: 16 still missing after Mount Ontake eruption
BBC

Dōjin nation: does 'indie' gaming really exist in Japan?
Guardian

Hague treaty returns two children to Japan
Japan Times

In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?
The Diplomat

Literature and The Trauma of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Japan Focus

Dalai Lama visa issue sinks Nobel laureates' summit. Where can he travel? (+video)
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

2014 Energy Efficiency Scorecard:

1. Germany
2. Italy
3. EU
4. China
4. France
6. UK
6. Japan
8. Spain
9. Canada
10. Australia
11. India
12. South Korea
13. USA

Source: American Council for Energy Efficient Economy

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
Japan is home to a small but growing Muslim population, especially as young Muslims from Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia come to study at Japanese universities, as the overall number of young university-age Japanese students continues to fall.

Some university cafeterias in Japan have set up halal options for their Muslim students.

Japan also has small, though significant populations of Turkish, Iranian and Pakistani ex-patriots.

With the relaxing of visa restrictions for visitors from Indonesia and Malaysia in July 2013, more Muslims from those countries are visiting Japan to shop and vacation. The Shinjuku branch of Takashimaya has opened a Muslim prayer room in its store to cater to its new customers.

Nagoya Mosque
Japan's first mosque was established in the international port city of Kobe in 1935. Now there are over 60 mosques (masjid) in Japan with the majority of them situated in the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka.

The largest mosque in Japan is the Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center, in Shibuya, which was founded in 1938 by Tatars who had fled the Russian Revolution.

Gifu Mosque
Two significant mosques in the Chubu (Central) area of Japan are Nagoya Mosque and Gifu Mosque, situated outside the center near Gifu University. There is also a mosque in Toyota city.

In the Kansai there is the Osaka Central Masjid and the Kyoto Muslim Association in Kyoto, near Kyoto University.

Gifu Mosque
Mosques & Islam in Japan Resources

Asakusa Mosque - 1-9-12 Higashi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0025 Tel: 03 3871 6061
Camii Mosque - 1-19 Oyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0065 Tel: 03 5790 0760
Fukuoka Mosque - 3-2-18 Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, 812-0053
Gifu Mosque - Furuichiba Higashimachida 8, Gifu
Kobe Mosque - 2-25-14 Nakayamate Dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0004
Kyoto Muslim Association - Riverside Kojinguchi 1F & BF Miyagaki-cho 92, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 602-0853 Tel: 075 231 3499
Kumamoto Islamic Center - Kurokami 5-5-2, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto 860-0862
Nagoya Mosque - 2-26-7 Honjindori, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 453-0041
Niigata Mosque - Ikarashi 1 nocho 6776-43 Nishiku, Niigata 950-2102
Osaka Central Mosque - 4-12-16 Owada Nishi, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, 555-0032 Tel: 06 4862 6396
Toyota Mosque - Tsutsumi-cho, Aoki 28-1, Toyota, 473-0932

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan Mosques Islam Masjid Nagoya Muslim
27 Oct
遅延証明書

Trains in Japan are renowned for achieving the almost impossible feat (in most countries) of running on time. And even if a train is a minute or two late, in Tokyo during the day they come and go so frequently that you're never waiting for more than about five minutes.

Train delay certificate, Sobu Line, Tokyo, Japan.Train delay certificate, Sobu Line, Tokyo, Japan.Having the trains run on time in Japan is achieved by way of strict discipline and efficient communication, which is visible in the highly formalized words and gestures used by train drivers and station staff.

If you watch a Japanese train driver or the guard who rides at the back of the train, you will see that his (occasionally her) working life consists of formulaic phrases that must be loudly and clearly uttered (whether or not anyone is there to hear them), hand/arm gestures that must be made, flags waved and whistles blown: physical ways of ensuring that the right checks are being made and awareness of the right things is being maintained.

This strictly formulaic approach extends to everything, illustrated by this morning's westbound Sobu/Chuo line being subject to a delay. I was waiting at Asakusabashi station in Tokyo for the Sobu line train to Yotsuya. I arrived at the platform at about 9:10 a.m. A train promptly arrived, but once I got on, the doors remained open, and there was an announcement of a delay due to having to "remove something at Higashi-Nakano station."

I got onto the NHK News Web site, which has pretty much everything that happens locally, and found out that "what appeared to be a cloth" had to be removed from the power lines above the track between Shin-Okubo and Higashi-Nakano stations: a section of the JR Chuo Line that comes northward out of Shinjuku and curves westward.

A cloth on a power line making for a one-hour delay? Rules must be obeyed, and every one of them was no doubt afforded full compliance as the offending cloth-like object was carefully and deliberately removed.

Dealing with delays, as with everything else, is not done by halves, and when I arrived at Yotsuya station there was a little box of Delay Certificates (chien-shomeisho) in front of the manned ticket wicket, for me, and all others affected, to pick up and present to the boss at work as proof.

Delay Certificates, according to Wikipedia, are used only in Japan and Germany: about the only two countries where public transport delays are abnormal enough to warrant them.

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
28 Oct
オランダ坂

Oranda Slope or Dutch Slope is an area of western style houses in Nagasaki close to the Confucius Shrine and Oura Catholic Church.

The Dutch had been permitted to trade on the artificial island of Dejima in Nagasaki throughout the Edo Period. With the opening up of Nagasaki to other foreigners as a Treaty Port in 1859, nationals from Britain, the USA, France, Russia and other countries began to settle. The Japanese residents of Nagasaki referred to all non-Asians as "Oranda-jin" - Dutchmen.

Oranda Slope, Nagasaki
Most people associate western residences in Nagasaki with Scottish businessman Thomas Glover (1838-1911) and Glover Garden.

However, there are quite a few other original houses of western traders dating from the late 19th century still standing in Nagasaki. Some of them are private residences and some are opened as museums.

Western Residences in Nagasaki
The houses near Dutch Slope are characterized by their clapboard exteriors, wooden shutters, tiled-roofs in the Japanese style, wide verandas and chimneys. In the main, they are painted an attractive sky blue color.

Western Residences in Nagasaki
Among the buildings still standing in this area are the wooden, former Russian consulate and the brick former British consulate at the bottom of the slope.

The former Russian consulate now serves as the Former Kyoryuchi (Foreign Settlement) Private School History Museum (free admission) detailing the history of Christian mission schools in the area. The building also served as the Prussian consulate, US consulate and as housing for missionaries during its time in active use.

The Russell Kinenkan (Russell Memorial Hall) is a wooden building dating from 1868 that serves as a history museum. Elizabeth Russell was a Methodist missionary and the founder along with Jennie Gheer of present-day Kwassui College - a school for girls.

Western Residences in Nagasaki
Orandazaka
Higashiyamatemachi
Nagasaki, 850-0911
Google Map of Dutch Slope

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Nagasaki
Thomas Glover
Kyushu
Architecture
Japanese History
17 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Yoshiko Yamaguchi, 94, Actress in Propaganda Films, Dies
New York Times

Japan steps up sanctions as tensions rise with Russia
BBC

Anger in Tokyo after North Korea delays report on abductions
Guardian

New idol group exists to pay off debts
Japan Times

Japan: Let Them Eat Whale
The Diplomat

A New Japanese Miracle? Its Hamstrung Feed-in Tariff Actually Works
Japan Focus

Asia's troubled waters: What's going on in the South China Sea? Take our quiz.
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Countries, by percentage of population, most at risk from coastal flooding due to global warming:

1. Netherlands: 47%
2. Vietnam: 26%
3. Thailand: 12%
4. Japan: 10%
5. Myanmar: 9%
6. Bangladesh: 7%
7. UAE: 7%
8. Philippines: 7%
9. Bahrain: 6%
10. Belgium: 6%

Source: Climate Central

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
27 Oct
ベトナムにおいての日本

Being in Vietnam as a tourist is an odd idea if you're old enough to remember the constant black-and-white news coverage of the place during its wartorn years. However, its the second decade of the 21st century, and everything's sharper now and in color.

Lotteria Japanese fastfood outlet in Vietnam.Lotteria hamburger outlet in VietnamOur few days in Vietnam were dominated by color: a sizzling palette of it after the dove, mushroom or battleship grays of Japan. The architecture, too, is a world away from Japan's--ironically in that it epitomises a central element of Japanese culture that is nevertheless pretty much absent in Japanese building design: kawaii, or cuteness.


Housing in Hanoi, Vietnam.The kawaii architecture of VietnamPerhaps it's the French influence, but housing in Vietnam is intensely cute and quaint with its French windows, pediments, projecting bays, tympanums, cornices and fanlights, all painted in varying degrees of subtlety and finesse in generally bright and snappy, but at the same time delicate and well-thought-out, combinations.

Dorayaki Addict shop in Vietnam.Dorayaki Addict, Hanoi, Vietnam
However, when it comes to Japaneseness, the most striking presence in Vietnam is Japanese motorbikes, especially Honda. I was told by a Vietnamese local that of the approximately 3 million motorcycles (mainly motorscooters) in Hanoi alone, about two-thirds were Honda, and most of the remainder Yamaha. Compared with motorbikes, cars are in the minority on Vietnamese streets. Honda cars are not uncommon, although Toyota seemed to dominate there.

Honda motorcycle dealership in Vietnam.Honda motorcycle dealership, Vietnam.Japan's popularity in Vietnam goes beyond just technology, and extends to food and toys. We saw not a few Lotteria fast food outlets on our travels, Japanese restaurants, karaoke, Hello Kitty, Sony dealers, and highway billboards advertising many different Japanese brands.

We encountered numerous Japanese tour groups in Vietnam, however, it was apparent from the exchange rates offered there that the US dollar was still favored over the yen.

"I Love Tokyo," seen in a Hanoi department store, Vietnam."I Love Tokyo" Japanese houseware corner in a Hanoi department store, Vietnam.
© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Keywords
Japan
Vietnam
27 Oct
足羽神社

Asuwa Shrine on Asuwayama (Mt. Asuwa) in Fukui is said to be 1500 years old. Asuwa enshrines the mythical 6th century Emperor Keitai, who was supposedly born in Fukui.

Asuwa Shrine, Fukui
Asuwa Shrine is mentioned in both the Nihonshoki and Kojiki chronicles and is known for its ancient weeping cherry tree said to be at least 370 years old. During the cherry blossom season the tree is illuminated at night.

The actual buildings, however, date from 1959, as the shrine has been destroyed several times over its history by fire, war and earthquake.

Asuwa Shrine 370 year old cherry tree, Fukui

Asuwa Shrine attractions supplicants to pray for safe child-birth and success in examinations and business.

To get to the shrine from Fukui Station the quickest way is to walk over Sakurabashi and ascend the Atagozaka steps - 145 Shakudani stone steps - to the shrine. Alternatively take a tram to Koen-guchi Station or take the West Route Smile Bus to the Atagozaka stop.

Asuwa Shrine (in Japanese & English)
1-8-25 Asuwa Uemachi 108
Fukui 918-8007
Tel: 0776 36 0287

Asuwa Shrine

© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan Shrines
Fukui
Hokuriku
Japanese Shrines
28 Oct
ホームレス

The increase in the number of homeless people living rough in Japan's major cities dates from the 1990's and the beginning of the "Lost Decade" as Japan's economy began to contract after the collapse of the assets and property bubble of the 1970's and 1980's.

Homeless Problem in Nagoya Aichi

Hard figures for the exact number of homeless people in Japan are hard to come by.

Government statistics quote a number of around 25,000 people as officially homeless in Japan.

In Nagoya alone, the city authority says around 100-200 people are living on the streets. Caritas, a Catholic social welfare group, dedicated to helping disadvantaged people, believes the figure is much higher at approximately 2000-3500 people. These figures are supported by such organizations as Oasis in the UK.

Homeless Problem in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

The years 1999-2008 saw an explosion in the number of people rendered homeless in Nagoya due to the downturn in the fortunes of small, subsidiary companies related to the area's biggest employer, Toyota Motor Corporation.

Low-tier workers, predominately older males, began to fall through the societal cracks at this time as employment dried up. Industrial injuries, family break-ups, poverty and pure bad luck meant that many older men with few qualifications and skills were forced on to the streets.

Traditionally in Japan, when the main bread-winner (mostly male) lost their jobs, the wife would decamp with any children to the wife's family, leaving the man to cope as best he could.

Partial relief came in 2005 with the hosting of Aichi Expo 2005 in Nagoya, when the global spotlight forced Nagoya city to act and set up a shelter for its homeless community.

However, the budget was time limited and soon after the Expo ended, the shelter was closed and the homeless had no option but to return to the streets.

Since then, various NPO's and churches in Nagoya have been trying on an ad hoc and uncoordinated basis to aid the city's homeless community. These efforts include food handouts and opportunities for the homeless to bathe and seek medical attention.

Unlike in cities such as London in the UK, the churches in Nagoya have not yet come together to formulate a centralized plan to seek to get the needy off the streets by pressurizing  the city to open drop-in centers or shelters, where the homeless can obtain an address, gain or replace ID documents, apply for jobs or state welfare and open bank accounts.

The homeless in Japan's cities are open to abuse by gangs of youth who may terrorize them at night, beating them up and destroying their tarpaulin shelters or by Japan's mob, the yakuza, who set up vulnerable individuals in shoddy, inadequate apartments to scam the welfare system, taking the lion's share of any benefits from the state they may receive under threat of violence.

What the homeless need in Nagoya and in Japan's other major cities is a government funded system to provide a long-term shelter where they can get off the streets at night, obtain a legitimate address and hope to reintegrate in to society.

Homeless Problem in Nagoya

Over the coming year, JapanVisitor will be following the work of the Rev. Daniel Rea in Nagoya, an American Puritan, experienced and committed to finding practical solutions to the homelessness problem in Nagoya, after his previous work with the disadvantaged in Houston, Texas.

Rev. Daniel Rea has produced a comprehensive plan for a homeless day care center in Nagoya with costings and a needs analysis of the current homelessness problems of the city.

We ask you to join us as we seek together to end the scourge of homelessness in Nagoya by setting up a day center in the city.

Over the next weeks and months we will detail the people living rough on the streets of Nagoya, their lives and stories, and the attempt to set up a Day Center to help them.

Homeless Problem in Nagoya

© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan Homeless
Homeless
Chubu
Nagoya
Japanese Homeless
27 Oct
東横INN福井駅前

The Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae is part of the nationwide Toyoko Inn chain of business hotels. Situated right at the West Exit of Fukui Station, the Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae is super convenient for getting around Fukui and for getting out to visit Eiheiji Temple and the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.

Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae

Rooms are on the cramped side but there is free Wifi, though not always the most efficient, and complimentary breakfast - rice balls, miso soup, vegetables, tea and juice.

While I was staying there was also free curry rice every night between 6pm-7pm if you could face the same dinner every evening.

Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae

The staff were very friendly and facilities include newspapers (English ones too) and computers in the lobby, a laundry room and car parking.

The area around Fukui Station has a number of hotels including the Route Inn Fukui Ekimae right next door, the Hotel Econo Fukui Ekimae and the Terminal Hotel Fukui. All offer fairly similar facilities and are similarly priced.

Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae
2-1-1, Ote Fukui-city
Fukui 910-0005
Tel: 0776 29 1045

Toyoko Inn Fukui Ekimae

© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan Hotels
Fukui
Hokuriku
Toyoko Inn
Japanese Hotels
28 Oct
浜荘

Hamaso is a waterfront ryokan located on shore of Katagami Bay, an inlet of Omura Bay in central Nagasaki Prefecture. It is about halfway between Nagasaki city and Huis Ten Bosch.

Hamaso Ryokan, Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

Hamaso is a modern building and the rooms are clean and bright and airy. When I stayed there it was out of season and I was the only guest. My room overlooked the water and had a fantastic view of the sunrise.

Hamaso Ryokan, Nagasaki

The toilets and bathrooms were not ensuite. The establishment has a reputation for high quality food, not surprisingly seafood caught in the bay and landed just meters from the ryokan, but I stayed sudomari, room only, and for that I paid 4,000 yen.

Hamaso Ryokan
2590 Nagauramachi, Nagasaki 851-3212
Tel: 095 885 2030
Google Map of Hamaso

Hamaso Ryokan

© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Keywords
Japan inns
Kyushu
Nagasaki
Ryokan
Japanese Ryokan
27 Oct
今週の日本

Japan News.
Tea Party Politics in Japan: Japan's Rising Nationalism
New York Times

Japan nuclear regulator approves reactor restart
BBC

The truth about the peer-reviewed science produced by Japan's whaling
Guardian

All systems go for second stage of tax hike: Tanigaki
Japan Times

Japan Enters Global Submarine Market With Soryu Offering
The Diplomat

Japan's Secrecy Law and International Standards
Japan Focus

Japan, Germany shake off WWII arms constraints. A cause for concern?
Christian Science Monitor

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Percentage of management that is female, including civil servants, 2012:

1. Philippines: 47.6%
2. USA: 43.7%
3. France: 39.4%
4. Sweden: 35.6%
5. UK: 34.2%
6. Singapore: 33.8%
7. Germany: 28.6%
8. Italy: 25.8%
9. Japan: 11.2%
10. South Korea: 11%

Source: Asahi Shinbun

© JapanVisitor

Book a hotel in Japan with Bookings

Happi Coats


© JapanVisitor.com


Inside Track Japan For Kindle
Download your free
News On Japan iPhone App

Follow NewsOnJapan.com on Twitter @newsonjapan