Proof that eating out on your own in Japan can be better than dining with company.

A table for one isn’t anything to feel sad about in Japan, where counter seating and solo dining booths make you feel like you’re eating out at a home away from home, where nobody expects you to help with the cooking, or the cleanup afterwards.

Our Japanese-language reporter Yuuichiro Wasai is a big fan of solo dining, so when he heard about a restaurant chain called Hitori Shabu Shabu Ichi (Solo Shabu Shabu One), he couldn’t think of a better place to eat lunch.

▼ Yuuichiro has previously enjoyed his own company at solo-booth yakiniku chains and solo-booth karaoke chains, so he was looking forward to solo shabu shabu.

Our self-appointed “table-for-one professional” brought a wealth of expertise to his solitary lunch date, and it actually turned out to be a one-of-a kind experience that solo diners will fall in love with.

▼ The noren curtain at the entrance to the restaurant reads: “Solo Shabu Shabu” with “ichi” written in the red box on the bottom corner.

Stepping inside the restaurant reveals a very unusual setup, and diners’ eyes will be immediately drawn to the central conveyor belt, where dishes of meat revolve past the counter like fish at a sushi restaurant.

The spinning belt of meat made Yuuichiro’s heart fill with joy, as he hadn’t expected to see a conveyor belt sushi setup at a shabu shabu establishment. While partitions can be slotted beside diners to separate them at the counter, …continue reading


Created with the help of a 160-year-old green tea company from Kyoto.

Mister Donut is the country’s go-to retail chain for all things doughnut, with a respected reputation that’s given birth to collaborations with big names like Pokémon and French pattiserie chain Pierre Hermé.

Now, the doughnut chain is gearing up for spring with a new range and a new collaboration with Gion Tusjiri, a respected tea manufacturer founded 161 years ago in Uji, Kyoto, a region famous for green tea. This is the third time the two have joined forces for a range showcasing Gion Tusjiri’s highly sought-after matcha, but this will be their first to combine powdered green tea with sakura cherry blossoms.

The new “Blooming Matcha” series contains the following five doughnuts:

Warabimochi Sakura & Uji Matcha Whip (216 yen (US$1.99) takeout, 220 yen eat-in)

This pretty creation features a fluffy dough made with sakura, and comes filled with both matcha and sakura whipped creams and a plump, chewy warabimochi (bracken starch dumpling) in the centre.

▼ Warabimochi Sakura An & Uji Matcha Whip (216 yen takeout, 220 yen eat-in)

Sandwiched inside this pink doughnut, also made with a sakura-infused dough, is matcha whipped cream, warabimochi, and a cherry blossom bean paste.

▼ Sakura Mochitto Doughnut Uji Matcha Whip (194 yen takeout, 198 yen eat-in)

“Mochitto”, which translates to “soft and springy”, describes the texture of mochi (pounded rice cakes). This beauty contains a filling of Uji matcha whipped cream and sakura-flavored mochi, topped off with white chocolate and sakura-coloured roasted mochi pieces.

▼ Sakura Mochitto Doughnut Sakura-an Style …continue reading


Crabhome is where the heart is now.

About a month ago, a hot new social media app took Japan by storm. Its name was Crabhouse, and it let you enter a virtual room – dare I say “clubhouse” – full of crabs. By tapping individual crustaceans, users can learn facts about these fascinating animals or simply what’s on their minds.

▼ “Crab is a general term for crustaceans belonging to the Brachyura infraorder and Decapoda order. That’s difficult and I don’t really get it, but I just know they say there are ten legs.”

We too joined the rapidly growing ranks of Crabhouse members, and learned firsthand why it had gotten over 150,000 downloads and nearly 2,000 five-star reviews on the App Store. However, on 22 February the Crabhouse trend hit a major speedbump, as announced in a distressed tweet by the developer who goes by the name “Gai.”

“”The Crabhouse update was rejected by the App Store! ‘The name is confusing’ was the reason! LOL But there are already other apps that go beyond that by having the exact same name as Clubhouse, so why is mine the ‘confusing’ one? How do I overturn this?! Engineers, help!”


— GAI?@トライバルデザイナー (@kamibukuro18) February 22, 2021

SoraNews24 also looked into the matter and discovered that indeed there is another social media app called Clubhouse that seems to have developed a bit of a following. Frankly, it seemed kind of stupid because there wasn’t a single crab in sight, but to each their own.

▼ The number of crabs are dependent on the number of devices using Crabhouse at the time, and the room itself is based on one you might find in <a target=_blank …continue reading


Source: Gaijin Pot

At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2021, Japan will mark a decade to the day since a major earthquake struck off the coast of Tohoku, sending a massive tsunami crashing into Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, and triggering a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The earthquake’s magnitude measured 9.0 on the seismic scale — one of the most powerful ever recorded — and the resulting catastrophe was the largest natural disaster in Japan’s modern history.

The lost

Photo: Aaron Baggett
Soldier and workers near Sendai in 2011.

According to Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) figures, the total number of deaths attributed to the disaster is officially 15,900 across 12 prefectures as of March 2021, including a woman whose remains were identified in Miyagi Prefecture on March 4.

The most deaths were 9,543 in Miyagi, followed by 4,675 in Iwate and 1,614 in Fukushima. The NPA figures also list another 2,525 people missing and presumed to have died in six other prefectures. Of those, 1,215 remain missing in Miyagi, 1,111 in Iwate and 196 in Fukushima. More than 6,000 people were injured and others died during the evacuation or later, mainly in the three hardest hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

Most major relief agencies, including the Japanese Red Cross Society (which was one of the first on the ground to offer assistance immediately after the quake) have wrapped up their support measures. The Red Cross have turned their attention to helping with the current coronavirus pandemic but they are always ready to assist in Japan when disaster strikes and are always in need of donations. Find out more at the Japanese Red Cross Society donation page.

Other aid organizations, like Second Harvest Japan, are still continuing …continue reading


Osaka Metro Co., Ltd., the operator of Osaka’s metro transit system, has reportedly sold a ‘minpaku’-style short-term letting building at a loss. The apartment building was purchased in 2019 with the goal of opening it to foreign tourists from February 2021, but those plans have been abandoned due to the ongoing international travel bans.

The 13-story, 72-room building was sold last December for an undisclosed price, although it is estimated to have sold for less than the 2 billion Yen (approx. US$19.3 million) Osaka Metro purchased it for. ABC News suggests the loss may have been several hundred million Yen.

With people spending more time at home, bus and rail passengers have fallen over the past year. The company is expecting to post a net loss of 3.8 billion Yen for the year ending March 2021.

The Asahi Shimbun, January 22, 2021.
ABC News, January 22, 2021.

108 total views, 108 views today

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Reuters: Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter… Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying…

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed. The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour. Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

COMMENT: I would hope that means that Non-Japanese Residents of Japan are allowed to get tickets and spectate. But I’m not at all confident that will happen. First, how will authorities enforce that, given the “Japanese Only” practices widespread in Japan that historically have barred entry or participation to anyone who is foreign, moreover doesn’t “look Japanese”? (This includes Japanese sports; see for example here, here, here, and here.) After decades of studying these practices, my educated guess is that this entry ban will be applied to any person considered to be “Non-Japanese”, not just NJ tourists from overseas; and that includes online ticket sales. Meaning anyone with a foreign-sounding name online will be denied a ticket, and a foreign-looking face denied entry at the door.

Second, what completely astonishes me is the poor physical and social science happening here. Authorities have once again missed the point is the fact that ANY gathering during a pandemic is potentially a super-spreader event. The virus …continue reading


Do you know about online lessons? graph of japanese statistics

This survey from MMD Labo looked at online lessons. With the pandemic and people spending more time at home, it would have been interesting to see how many people had chosen to start lessons for these reasons, but the results of that question were not offered in this summary of the survey.

I’ve not started any private lessons, although for work I’ve done a good number of free lectures I’ve found through YouTube, mostly on the subjects of GPUs and autonomous vehicles.

I’m surprised to see yoga, fitness and sports as the second-most popular genre; I can understand watching YouTube videos, but two-way lessons seem difficult without physical feedback.

Survey results

Q1: Do you know about online lessons? (Sample size=6,607)

Currently taking them 6.0%
Used to take them 5.6%
Investigating taking them 3.4%
Know about them, but never used them 35.4%
Know the term, but don’t know what kind of service they are 5.9%
Heard the term, but don’t know any more 18.7%
Don’t know anything 25.0%

Q2: What genres of lessons have you taken? (Sample size=766, multiple answer, top ten)

Foreign languages 36.7%
Yoga, fitness, sports 21.5%
Business 21.4%
Academic subjects 20.6%
Music 19.5%
IT, programming 19.5%
Cooking 18.4%
Art, design 17.2%
Fashion, beauty 16.2%
Dance, ballet 16.1%

Q3: What genres of lessons might you like to take in the future? (Sample size=766, multiple answer, top ten)

Foreign languages 36.2%
Yoga, fitness, sports 27.7%
IT, programming 27.3%
Music 24.3%
Cooking 23.0%
Business 22.6%
Fashion, beauty 21.1%
Academic subjects 19.6%
Art, design 18.9%
Sewing, accessory making 18.3%

Q4: Are there any genres of online lessons you’d like to take? (Sample size=5,841)

Yes (to SQ) 45.4%
None in particular 54.6%

Q4SQ1: What genres of lessons might you like to take? (Sample size=2,652, multiple answer, top ten)

Foreign languages 43.8%
Yoga, fitness, sports 25.6%
IT, programming 20.2%
Cooking 20.1%
Music 17.9%
Business 12.1%
Fashion, beauty 9.1%
Counselling 9.1%
Sewing, accessory making 8.9%
Fortune telling, spiritual 8.4%

The following questions were for 441 people who had taken online lessons.

Q5: How much did you spend per month for online lessons? (Sample size=441)

Under 500 yen 7.9%
500 to 999 yen 15.4%
1,000 to 1,999 yen 16.6%
2,000 to 2,999 yen 12.5%
3,000 to 3,999 yen 9.8%
4,000 to 4,999 yen 9.8%
5,000 to 5,999 yen 6.3%
6,000 to 6,999 yen 2.7%
7,000 to 7,999 yen 2.7%
8,000 to 8,999 yen 1.7%
9,000 to 9,999 yen 1.6%
Over 10,000 yen 4.1%
Free 4.8%

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Two large men offered help on freezing cold morning, left without giving their names.

On the morning of January 10, a 71-year-old man was crossing the street in the town of Sanyo Onada, Yamaguchi Prefecture. With the previous night having been bitterly cold, though, the pavement had become iced over, and he slipped and fell before reaching the other side.

The next thing the man remembers is waking up in an ambulance, being rushed to the hospital with a bleeding head wound suffered in the fall. However, an injury wasn’t the only thing he acquired in the accident, as when he regained consciousness he found he also had two down jackets in his possession, neither of which are his.

After receiving medical treatment, the man aske the paramedics about the articles of clothing. According to them, after his fall took place at about 7 a.m., a passerby noticed him lying in the street and called an ambulance. Before the ambulance arrived, though, two large men also happened to walk by, and they gave up their coats to keep the man’s body warm. One of them put his jacket underneath the 71-year-old as a buffer between him and the ice-cold asphalt, and the other laid his jacket on top of the man like a blanket. One of them even put a scarf around the man. They then waited for the ambulance to arrive, and when it did, they both left without giving their names, or asking for their clothing back.

The 71-year-old has now recovered from his injury, and still has the two extra-large jackets (one yellow and the other purple), plus the scarf, at his home, and he’s now looking for the two Samaritans. “I’d like to give them back their clothes, and also to thank them” he says. Neither man has come forward …continue reading


Our Eva fan grew up with a dad like the one Shinji is stuck with, so how does he feel after watching Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time?

If you’re slotting it into a genre, Evangelion goes in the science fiction/mecha one. It is, after all, a series about giant robots fighting giant alien monsters.

But for all the physical confrontations it resolves through punching, stabbing, and shooting, many fans would argue that it’s the series’ mental conflicts that really make Eva so uniquely compelling. With Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time releasing this week, our Japanese-language reporter Tasuku Egawa, whose relationship with his own father was similar to the one between Eva protagonist Shinji and his robot-designing dad Gendo, took a moment to reflect on the emotional journey it’s been being an Evangelion fan for more than 20 years, and how the series can affect you in different ways depending on what stage of life you’re in while you’re watching it, so we’ll turn things over to him (minor, non-specific spoilers ahead).

– – – – –

Tasuku: The thing that’s always drawn me to Evangelion is the theme of the parent-child relationship between Gendo and Shinji. Speaking personally, when I was growing up, my own father was very much like Gendo.

I watched the original Evangelion TV series while it was originally airing in the ‘90s on broadcast TV in the evening. At that time, I was in the upper grades of elementary school, and I was completely on Shinji’s side. Even then, I could tell Shinji wasn’t the cool-guy protagonist of other anime series. But what really struck me was how oppressive Gendo was, and how he’d do things seemingly at random just to test Shinji. In that way, I felt he was a lot like my own father.

▼ Trailer for …continue reading


Sometimes science is stranger than science-fiction.

In 2018, Sayaka Mito of Nara Women’s University was studying Elysia marginata, a type of sea slug found off the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture and bred in the school’s lab. Normally, sea slug research is rather mundane business, but one morning when entering the lab she found something truly shocking.

In the tank, one of her slugs appeared to have been murdered, with it’s head lying detached from its body. However, after a moment she found that the head was still moving around the enclosure. It was then she realized that the “murderer” was none other than the slug itself!

We’ve all heard of some animals’ ability to cuts off one of its own limbs or tails in order to escape predators. It’s a process called “autotomy,” not to be confused with “autonomy” which is an individual’s free will. Planarian flatworms are said to be the kings of autotomy. Cutting one in half will result in two living planaria, but unfortunately for them, this means people are constantly cutting them up.

Sea slugs are more complex creatures than flatworms and have organs such as hearts, making the odds of surviving decapitation a lot slimmer. Nevertheless, after only a few hours, Mito, whose research was published this week, was able to feed her slug head some seaweed. About a week after that, traces of a new body and working heart began to develop. By the third week, the slug’s body was nearly complete again.

This prompted further study, during which Mito found that another close relative, Elysia astroviridis collected from Mukaishima in Hiroshima Prefecture, had the same ability. However, there were limitations. The remaining bodies did not grow a new head, but some continued to twitch in response to stimulus for a long time before beginning to decompose. In …continue reading