Investigating the underbelly of Tokyo in one of its most notorious districts.
Kabukicho in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward is famous for being the real-world inspiration for Kamurocho, the notoriously sketchy yakuza ‘hood from the Yakuza video game series.
While the lively entertainment district in the real world does have a bit of a sketchy reputation, mostly due to the underhanded practices of some unscrupulous business owners, it’s nowhere near as dangerous as Kamurocho. However, there is a bit of an underground fight club going on in the area, for those who know where to find it.
The venue is a bar called “Bar & Fight Underground Arena”, fittingly located in the basement of a sketchy-looking multi-tenant building on the outskirts of Kabukicho.
While it operates as an ordinary bar, it also provides patrons with boxing gloves free of charge. That’s because professional wrestling events and boxing bouts that anyone can enter are regularly held here.
▼ As soon as you step inside the bar, you’ll be met by the fighting ring.
Whether you aim to step into the ring or not, it’s recommended that you book ahead or buy tickets in advance for popular events like the fighting “showdown series” that takes place here every month.
So why are fighting events held here? It’s because the owner is a huge fan of professional wrestling.
▼ Pro-wrestling paraphernalia is on display at the back of the bar.
In the blink of an eye, the first month of the year is over. We hope that 2023 has been good to you Cheapos so far, and if you made a New Year’s resolution to go out and explore the city, here’s your handy guide to Tokyo’s events in February.
Keep an eye out for the plum blossoms — they start blooming in mid-February, but this year is touted to be earlier than usual. We’ve got a full guide here. Don’t forget that you can also catch the last of the winter illuminations.
Drive out bad luck and evil spirits in your life, and welcome good fortune with Setsubun, a festival during which people throw soybeans while chanting “Out with demons; in with good fortune!”
Are you dreaming of a trip to Japan and the breathtaking view of sakura, cherry blossoms? Lately, more and more tourists are flocking to this city in western Japan. Relaxing in gorgeous parks with hundreds of beautiful blooming trees that create mesmerizing visual effects takes only one day out of your vacation – yet, it’s likely something you will remember forever. If you’re planning a visit here, let us show you five amazing places where trees fill with those charming petals making for a peaceful sightseeing experience! Here are five best cherry blossom viewing spots in Osaka.
Osaka Castle Park 大阪城公園
Osaka castle park is the most popular sakura viewing spot in Osaka. About 3,000 cherry trees cover the entire vast Osaka Castle Park. In the Nishinomaru Garden (fee required), visitors can enjoy approximately 300 cherry trees, mainly Someiyoshino cherry trees. On the other hand, late-blooming yaezakura (double-flowered cherry trees) are planted at the Tamatsukuri entrance, and can be enjoyed until the end of the season.
The best time to view the cherry blossoms at Osaka Castle Park is generally from late March to early April. There are cafes, convenience stores and many food stalls selling Japanese casual snacks and drinks, making it the perfect place to have a picnic under the blossoms!
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/kruNisfVY5zQYKVx9 Entrance: Open 24 hrs, Free of charge (*Except for some facilities) Illumination: Nighttime hours will be held in Nishinomaru Garden in conjunction with the blooming of the flowers (18:00 – 21:00, last admission at 20:30).
Kema Sakuranomiya Park 毛馬桜宮公園
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a must-visit destination during cherry blossom season. The park is home to over 3,000 Someiyoshino cherry trees and about 4,800 cherry trees in total, lining the riverbank and providing a stunning backdrop for a picnic or stroll.
Historically, the appearance of art movements has been triggered by a certain social and economic phenomenon along with the curiosity of artists. Seeing how creatives have learned, emulated and evolved from their predecessors, the contemporary scene brings excitement for what current and future artists can bring to the table.
Located in Meguro is the Former Residence of Prince Asaka, a mansion surrounded by vast gardens. Since 1983, the establishment has been utilized as an art museum under Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. The building was the result of a collaboration between several artists, among them are French painter Henri Rapin who designed the interior and architect Gondo Yokichi. With high dome ceilings, large windows and chandeliers, the architecture is a departure from the traditional washitsu housing style. Appropriately, the museum is currently exhibiting a retrospective on modern European design.
With a collection of works spanning the first half of the 20th century, the exhibition explores the post-war social context in which artistic trends and designs were birthed. The selection of works includes several textile designs by female artists of Austria’s Wiener Werkstätte production association, chairs and kitchen utensils by Bauhaus designers and many household objects designed by some of Europe’s greatest artists.
Three dragons and three clouds…A straight line…An upside-down “child”…What could they mean?
The Japanese language is written using three different systems: hiragana and katakana, which are phonetic, and kanji, which is made up of individual characters, each with its own meaning and a pronunciation that changes depending on the context. If you have studied Japanese, you’ll know that kanji is one of the most difficult parts of learning the language.
That’s true for Japanese people as well. In fact, did you know that there are kanji so old or so bizarre that no one can recognize them? Take, for example, this character:
Though it looks like some kind of work of abstract art, this is a Japanese kanji that uses twelve of the “kuchi” radicals. “Radicals” are the individual parts of a character that each have meaning, and “kuchi” means “mouth.” Many people would say that this character, made up of 12 “mouth” radicals, is not a real character, but it is–it’s even listed in Japanese dictionaries!
You can find an example of its use in Uso Jidzukushi, a work by Edo-era novelist Shikitei Sanba. Have you figured out what it means? It’s read as “oshaberi,” which means “chatterbox” or “talkative”. How appropriate!
There are lots of other bizarre kanji out there. For example, the one shown above is made up of 84 strokes (the number of movements of a brush or pen needed to write the character), which is apparently the most out of any Japanese character. It’s composed of three characters for “cloud” and three characters for “dragon” mixed together. No one knows what it originally meant, but it was apparently used in …continue reading
Being the creative mind behind the best-performing anime film of all time, Your Name, and other titles such as Weathering with You and The Garden of Words, Makoto Shinkai’s work has become a cultural phenomenon. In November 2022, the animator released his newest film titled Suzume no Tojimari (すずめの戸締まり) which has already raked in 10 billion yen at the Japanese box office in just a few months.
Who is Makoto Shinkai?
Born in Nagano, Makoto Shinkai started his career as a video game animator and then went on to produce feature films from the end of the 1990s. He gained critical acclaim with his film 5 Centimeters Per Second in 2007, but it was Your Name in 2016 that led to Shinkai becoming a true household name, with him
One of the best-known symbols of Tokyo is the busy pedestrian scramble outside Shibuya station. Virtually anyone who’s ever come to the capital has probably been drawn to it at some point. People refer to it variously as Hachiko Crossing, Shibuya Crossing or the Shibuya Scramble. Whatever you want to call it (for the sake of convenience, we’ll follow the example of local businesses here and call it the Scramble), it’s a true tourist magnet.
The chaotic free-for-all of foot traffic, with people zigzagging every which way to get across the street, almost seems tailor-made to form an establishing shot of the metropolis on film. In our Lost in Translation guide to Tokyo, we looked at one well-worn spot for watching the Scramble: namely, the second floor of the Starbucks in Shibuya’s Q-Front building. To encourage a high turnaround of customers, the ubiquitous coffee chain only serves “Tall” size drinks at this location.
This is one of the busiest Starbucks franchises in the world, with a view that overlooks the second busiest train station in the world. With every over-caffeinated shutterbug and their grandmother vying for a window seat, however, the place is already crawling with camera buzzards and it isn’t always the most relaxing nor even the best spot for watching the intersection anymore.
A new, open-air observation deck is just one of the lesser-known alternatives that will allow you to get a bird’s-view of the Shibuya Scramble. …continue reading
You can apply directly to these companies by creating a profile on GaijinPot Jobs!
PYP Homeroom Teacher
Company: OWIS One World International School
Salary: ¥320,000 ~ ¥420,000
Location: Osaka, Japan
English: Native level (preferred)
Application: Must currently reside in Japan
As a PYP Homeroom Teacher, you will be expected to have knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for creative teaching. You will be tasked to build a community of inquiry-based learning involving all departments as appropriate and to involve parents.
Tenso and Buyee provide services to deliver Japanese items to customers worldwide, are looking for French / Italian customer service staff.
Responsibilities include supporting overseas customers who want to purchase items from Japan.
As such, you would answer customers inquiries through e-mails (with templates),
handling service-related duties (translating etc.) and communicate with warehouse staffs in Japan using online tools (Japanese required).
French or Italian Native level is preferred
Despite radical differences in the number of children adopted in comparison to Western countries (compare Australia’s 90% and Canada’s 83% adoption rates with Japan’s 1%), it would be wrong to assume that this is strictly a cultural phenomenon.
A study conducted by Human Rights Watch sought to delve deeper into the systemic failure of Japan’s adoption system. Government red tape, the casual institutionalization of children with “problems”, the shady business practices of orphanage managers, inadequate training for foster parents, and an overall lack of social awareness all add up to a system that fails the children most in need.
In 2021, there were 693 adoptions registered in Japan. In the UK, there were 2,960. There are a number of factors that contribute to this low figure, but a substantial obstacle is the Japanese government’s deference to the wishes of the biological parents. In Japan, biological parents retain legal custody of their son or daughter, even if they have abandoned them, and although the child may be placed in the care of the state, the birth parents have the ultimate say over the child’s future, and they usually choose to send their children to an orphanage, or institution, rather than to a foster or adoptive family. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, one care worker at a childcare institution in Tsukuba said, “In Japan, the interest of the parents is seen as more important than the interests of the child.”
Until the government addresses this issue, the numbers will continue to make for depressing reading.
Children with “problems”
In 2011, the Japanese government put in place the Foster Parents Placement Guidelines, which state that child guidance centres must consider foster care for children before institutional care. However, this rule is constantly ignored by permitting exceptions. The most egregious is that a child is allowed …continue reading
Dentist thinks part of the reason for bad breath in Japan is cultural.
Upon arriving in Japan, many people from overseas are impressed by how nicely dressed and well-groomed, on average, the local population is. However, in a survey conducted by Japanese women’s interest magazine Shukan Josei Prime, many foreigners living in Japan expressed dismay at bad breath they’ve encountered in the country.
Shukan Josei Prime collected responses from 100 survey participants, and when asked “Have you ever been disappointed by a Japanese person’s breath?” 72 percent answered “Yes.” 72 percent also said they want Japanese people to “be thorough regarding oral hygiene and care,” and the identical numbers make sense, since once you find someone’s breath bad enough that you feel full-on disappointment, you’re probably past being able to shrug the odor off as a “you do you” sort of thing. One respondent reportedly went so far as to say “I love Japanese people, but their breath is terrible. Honestly, there’s no country with worse breath.”
So what’s the cause of this disappointingly dismal breath quality?Shukan Josei Prime spoke with dentist Maki Morishita, a representative for the Japan Dental Research Institute, who hypothesized there might be some cultural characteristics that make Japanese people more susceptible to inadvertently bad breath. “Japanese people tend to maintain more personal space than people in the West,” says Morishita, referring to how hugs, handshakes, high-fives, and public kissing are all comparatively rare in Japan. “Japanese people are also conscious about not opening their mouths very wide when they laugh, because they think it’s impolite. So there’s less pressure to take care of your breath, and so attitudes about oral hygiene can become lax.”