Source: Tokyo Times
A reflective Tokyo business dinner

This was one of those moments that I simply liked the looked of, so I took one quick frame when walking by. Quite why it appealed, however, is difficult say, and even now, after editing the resultant photo, there’s not one particular thing I can confidently pinpoint. And yet that said, it somehow, in some way, seems to work.

From Monday, I will be swapping these kinds of scenes for those of my native Britain. A much needed trip back to see family, as well as some time away to try and take in all that has happened in the last 12 months or so. A chance to also start to think about the times ahead.

While I’m away, Tokyo Times will switch to weekly posts every Tuesday. I’ve put together some sets of re-edited and previously unseen photos, along with a couple of posts made up of recent shots. These will start next week and continue until August 23rd. Then, from August 30th, the usual Tuesday and Friday updates will resume as normal.

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Artist’s body was discovered drifting in ocean.

Last Wednesday, the body of Kazuo Takahashi, better known by his manga artist pen name of Kazuki Takahashi, was found floating in the sea off the coast of Okinawa Prefecture. On Monday, the Japan Coast Guard released the result of Takahashi’s autopsy.

Takahashi, creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and multimedia franchise, had been vacationing alone in Okinawa at the time and was wearing a T-shirt, swim fins, a snorkel, and a diving mask when his body was recovered near the town of Nago. Multiple reports mentioned bite marks on his legs and lower abdomen, and none mentioned any clothing on the lower half of the 60-year-old artist, with Nikkan Sports reporting that he had no swim trunks or underwear on.

This led some to wonder if Takahashi had been attacked by some sort of hostile marine wildlife, but the Coast Guard’s autopsy has determined that this was not the case, as medical examiners concluded that the cause of death was drowning.

On the morning of the day Takahashi’s body was found, the agency he had rented a car from had contacted the police, saying that he had not come in to return the vehicle and their attempts to reach him had been unsuccessful. The car was later found parked along a farm-access road near the beach in Onna, a city roughly 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from where Takahashi’s body was recovered. It’s now believed that after Takahashi’s drowning, sharks bit at his body in the day-plus it spent drifting south to Nago, causing extensive posthumous injuries.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the drowning, but at this time believe the likelihood of foul play is low.

Sources: NHK News Web, Mainichi Shimbun, Nikkan Sports, Nitele News
Top image © SoraNews24
● Want …continue reading


It’s nice to feel wanted.

We recently found that Osaka was considered one of the most livable cities in the world, but it’s fair to say that most places in Japan are pretty swell places to live for many of the same reasons as Osaka.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Japan has also been named the second-most popular country to relocate to according to analysis by Australian financial website Compare the Market. This was done by checking the annual search volume of terms like “house in” or “moving to” and each of 182 countries’ names.

▼ Who wouldn’t want to live like this?

Among them all, Canada came out as the clear winner having been the most investigated country to move to in 50 countries worldwide. It seemed especially popular among many African countries as well as China and India. Although a somewhat distant second, Japan still put in a very strong showing by topping searches in 31 countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, South Korea, and even the number one county Canada.

Here’s the top ten, and the numbers next to the names indicate in how many countries they were the most searched place to move to:

1 – Canada (50)
2 – Japan (31)
3 – Spain (19)
4 – China (15)
5 – France (11)
6 – TIE: Turkey & South Africa (9)
8 – India (7)
9 – Australia (6)
10 – TIE: Greece & Fiji (4)

Many people in Japan were surprised by the results according to the online comments, but many suspect it’s because Japan is such a cheap place to live in today’s inflationary world.

“We don’t understand English, there isn’t much arable land, and frequent earthquakes. If we’re number two I wonder what is happening in other countries.”
“Canada is pretty strong.”
“The …continue reading


Make your skin as fresh as a styrofoam tub of fermented beans!

Many people are not too crazy about the fermented soy beans known as “natto” in Japan, what with their aged-cheese-like smell. For me, however, it’s the texture that makes me want to gag every time, with a fibrous sliminess similar to okra or yamaimo, and an overall mouthfeel of regurgitated beetles.

Image: SoraNews24

And yet despite the revulsion that feeling creates in my mouth, I could see that very same texture working very well as a lotion or soap. So a new line of soaps made with natto-derived ingredients and aptly named Natto, makes a lot of sense.

Of course, none of these products will leave you smelling like natto because the chemicals responsible for that notorious scent are not included in Natto. Instead the products are all based on polyglutamic acid, which is the substance responsible for natto’s stringy goo.

Natto Face Soap

Natto also includes “natto gum,” a substance which also goes by the name “shokubutsusei collagen” or “vegetable collagen”. Vegetables don’t actually contain collagen and neither does natto, but natto gum is given that nickname because its effect on moisturizing skin is said to rival that of actual collagen.

There’s a bunch of other good stuff in Natto as well, such as fermented soy milk liquid, hyaluronic acid, and even the extract of natto’s gooey cousin okra. It comes in four forms: Natto Face Soap, Natto Body Lotion, Natto Face Lotion, and Natto Gel.

Natto Gel

In addition to the smell, these items differ from real natto in that they do not leave …continue reading


We clear the way to our company country house–literally.

Our super cheap SoraHouse is slowly but steadily coming along! We haven’t done much to the interior yet, but after finding out that we need to tear down the old shed in the yard by hand, we also learned we need to prepare for the process by first cleaning up the landscaping. Being a somewhat neglected home in the wild mountains of Saitama, the area around our little house was quite overgrown with weeds and trees, so it needed some serious attention.

It would take significant might to conquer this wild land, so we called up Takanori Ogawa of construction firm Hobien once again. When we told him what we wanted to do, he said, “No problem! I’ll send some young’uns to get the job done,” and we could practically hear his broad smile over the phone.

On a burning hot summer day, Go Hatori and Yoshio, our Japanese-language reporters assigned to do battle with the wilderness today, waited with Yoshio’s nephew Liam at the house, sweltering in the heat, and wondering who would be coming up the mountain road today. Soon enough, a truck came trundling up the road. The Hobien reinforcements had arrived!

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!

The driver expertly maneuvered the truck right to the side of the road, revealing even more of Hobien’s professional-level skills. That spot was extremely narrow and descended into a steep cliff nearby, …continue reading


The people of Nara mourn the senseless death of Shinzo Abe

Many mourned the violent death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan yesterday–whether they supported him or not, the people of Nara recognized that the loss of human life is always tragic.

reporting by Himari Shimanz, Beni Adelstein. Cameron Seeley also contributed to this report.

Flowers, tea and beers, as is customary in Japanese culture, laid by the public mark the site where Shinzo Abe was fatally shot. Yesterday, we paid a visit to the site ourselves to see all those who made trips from near and far to commemorate Abe’s passing. The overwhelming feeling on the day was that of sadness, with flowers periodically being taken away to make room for the endless flow of offerings. Even for those unfamiliar with his political work, many were sad to hear the news of his passing. One of the many who stopped to add to his growing memorial told us, “I’ve known Mr. Abe as the leader of Japan for most of my lifetime. Because of that, regardless of how his politics were, whether his politics were good or bad, it is really sad for someone who had taken on such responsibility and come this far to pass away. I know every person has their own opinions but I think that it comes down to an individual having passed away.”

A young girl, fighting back tears, expressed a similar sentiment noting how such a tragic incident could come out of nowhere, and she felt it was her obligation to pay her respects.

Many expressed shock at hearing the incident had taken place in Nara, a small Japanese city with significantly under 500,000 residents. One man from Osaka told us: …continue reading


Traditional natural signs of the season are missing.

There’s room for debate on when the exact start of summer is. Maybe you go with the meteorological point of view that the first day of June is also the first day of summer, or maybe you follow the astronomy perspective that it begins with the summer solstice on June 21.

But I think we can all agree that by now we’re firmly into summer, which is why many people in Japan are surprised that they’re not seeing some traditional signs of the season.

Let’s start with what’s usually the first summer event of a given year that people in Japan look forward to: the hydrangeas blossoming, which happens in June, right as the country enters the rainy season portion of the summer. Japan loves seasonal flowers, and hydrangeas have the advantage of staying around longer than the famously short-lived cherry blossoms. This year, though, they came and went with sakura-similar swiftness due to record-setting heat and markedly less rainfall than usual. “I wouldn’t say the hydrangeas around here withered. I’d say they burned up,” said a Chiba Prefecture resident in a survey conducted by Japan’s Weather News organization, with another participant from Mie Prefecture remarking that the ordinarily vividly colorful petals “turned brown, like they’d gotten suntans!”

Moving on to something no one is personally missing, though, people in Japan have also been noticing far fewer mosquitos this year.

Ordinarily, mid-June is the start of a two-to-three-month period where if you spend more than a few minutes outside in a short-sleeved shirt, shorts, and/or open-toe footwear, you can expect to come home with fiercely itchy mosquito bits on any flesh that was exposed. This year, though, there’s been …continue reading


It seems to be the opposite of underwear theft, and yet it’s still very creepy.

There are crimes of passion, crimes of desperation, crimes of opportunity, and then sometimes there are crimes that just seem to defy all emotion and logic. One such crime occurred in the relatively quiet prefecture of Gifu, in the form of unlawful drying of underwear.

On 12 May, a 61-year-old office worker was returning home from work at around 5 p.m., but received a shock upon looking at his laundry rack. There, next to his own undergarments, hung an undisclosed amount of women’s underwear that he had never seen before.

The man called police and an investigation was launched into the mystery underwear. By checking surveillance camera footage from the surrounding area, the Gifu Prefectural Police were able to learn that at about 8:20 that same morning a man had entered the property and hung the underwear.

The more difficult task was then tracking the suspect afterward and identifying him, but the police eventually managed to do that too, and on 5 June arrested a 66-year-old man living in Yaotsu Town, Gifu Prefecture.

▼ I’m always impressed with what they can do with those cameras

As of this writing, there has been no announcement on whether the suspect admits or denies drying the underwear, but he is said to be cooperating. The authorities are also trying to determine what, if any, relationship exists between the suspect and victim, as well as a possible motive.

They’re certainly not alone either, because netizens are at a complete loss to understand why someone would do such a thing.

“Ah yes, just as a thought, I don’t understand this at all.”
“I wonder if this …continue reading


The reasons to love this tropical fruit keep piling up.

Summers are getting hotter, and Japan is no exception to that. So it’s more important than ever to stay cool, hydrated, and nourished. According to Japanese banana importer Sumifru, bananas are actually excellent at preventing heatstroke. The tropical fruits can replenish potassium, vitamins, and antioxidants that are lost through sweating, and their naturally occurring fructooligosaccharide can help a queasy stomach.

What’s more, bananas have a fair amount of magnesium, vitamin B6, and niacin, which can boost melatonin and serotonin levels to rejuvenate a heat-weary body. Though they’re on the high side in terms of natural sugars, it depletes slowly, so you’ll avoid the sugar crash you’d experience by ingesting something more processed.

But when it’s so hot and humid–especially in densely populated areas like Tokyo–how do you keep them from going bad quickly? Sumifru explains that the ideal storage conditions for bananas are to keep them in a well-ventilated room from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, or 59 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

But if that isn’t possible, they recommend storing them in the fridge once their skins start to form brown spots, or “sugar spots”. Putting them in the fridge before the spots form means they won’t get sweet. And make sure to wrap the whole bunch in newspaper or a plastic bag to retain an ideal environment for them! Sumifru also notes that even if the skins darken in the fridge, it doesn’t mean the fruit inside has gone bad.

▼ “Yes!! A sugar spot!!”

Sumifru’s recommendation for enjoying bananas in summer is to wait for those sugar spots to form, then cut them into chunks and freeze them on a tray so they …continue reading


Students are also asked if they’re satisfied with the amount that they have to spend.

Remember back to the simple days of your youth when you got money for doing absolutely nothing but existing? It’s seriously a shame that adulthood doesn’t come with a free monthly allowance clause.

Since the amount of allowance money that parents give to their children varies from family to family (as does New Year’s otoshidama gift money), Japanese human resources company Recruit was curious to learn what amounts families are shelling out for their high school-aged children these days. Therefore, it implemented an online survey in May which asked 1,000 high school students (273 males and 727 females) around the country who receive a monthly allowance how much they receive, when they receive it, and if they’re satisfied with the amount. Before you ask, “But why don’t they just get a part-time job?” remember that part-time jobs may not be as common for Japanese high school students as they are for students in other countries, with the pressures of university entrance exams, cram school at night, and “not-mandatory-but-mandatory” club activities taking up lots of time.

OK, let’s dive in to the survey results. A Japanese high school student’s typical monthly allowance comes out to be an average of 5,582 yen (US$41.28–but remember, the yen is currently at its lowest value against the US dollar in 20 years). For reference, that’s just under the cost of the Pokémon Legends: Arceus Nintendo Switch game, which retails for 6,578 yen.

▼ If you see Meiji-era scholar Yukichi Fukuzawa peeking out at you from your monthly allowance, you’re a lucky high school student indeed. He appears on Japan’s 10,000-yen banknote.

<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="480" srcset=" 1600w,,113 150w,,480 640w,,576 768w,,768 1024w,,1152 1536w,,70 95w" …continue reading