Japanese companies pride themselves on customer service, and that attitude carries over to public transportation providers too. Japan’s largest rail provider, Japan Railways Group (also known as JR) is particularly committed to presenting an image of its staff as courteous and capable, so many were shocked to learn that one of JR’s conductors recently flipped off a station-goer.
The incident took place last Saturday at Hakonegasaki Station, located on the Hachiko Line in western Tokyo, and can be seen in the images below.
As snow fell on the evening of January 23, word got out that the Hachiko Line would be running its 209-series carriages. This older model has been largely phased out of service, but issues with the weather that day prompted a temporary comeback, and a pair of train enthusiasts had come to Hakonegasaki Station to take photos from the platform. At around 8:30, though, the JR conductor at the rear of one train bird-bombed the photo by extending both his arm and his middle finger as the train pulled away.
One of the rail fans posted a video of the incident on Twitter, and some wondered if he may have been exhibiting the less-than-polite behavior that train enthusiasts are sometimes known for. He explained, though, that he had been properly standing behind the yellow safety lines marked on the platform, and that he hadn’t been using a flash, using an umbrella, or doing anything else that he felt would pose a safety risk or impeded the staff from doing their job and other passengers from getting on or of the train.
Eventually the video caught JR’s attention, and the company was able to determine who the conductor …continue reading
Make Merry collaborated with the shopping district this time on the “Cat Exhibition,” which was very popular during the box gallery era (2006-2019). We launched the Kawaramachi Cat Exhibition Executive Committee, powered up and came back!
At Make Merry, a mini-original painting exhibition with the theme of 25 cats from illustrators and writers inside and outside the prefecture will be held in collaboration with shops in the shopping district, and the work of drawing patterns on cat illustration templates and decorating parts to create original goods. Hold a shop.
During the period, 160 plum blossoms will bloom and you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing for a month, and you can appreciate it while being wrapped in the scent of plum blossoms. Umemi Chaya next to Umezono offers free plum tea services, amazake, and zenzai, and demonstration sales of steamed buns, rice cakes, and jakoten are also held at various locations throughout the park. There is also a distribution event of “Fukumochi” where you can win homemade umeboshi from Nanrakuen Garden, so you can enjoy it with your family.
When you feel a chill in the air and a rumble in your stomach, one of the best ways to solve both problems is with some oden. A wintertime favorite in Japan, oden consists of various meats, vegetables, and other foods, like tofu and fish cake, stewed in a savory broth of soy and dashi soup stock.
But unfortunately for our oden-loving reporter Ikuna Kamezawa, oden is kind of hard to find this winter. Usually convenience stores offer it with self-serve pots that you pick the pieces you want out of, but many chains have suspended this service during the pandemic, and health concerns also mean fewer street-side oden stalls, where customers usually have to eat shoulder-to-shoulder, this year. However, Ikuna now has a new favorite place to get oden: right at her work desk!
On a recent shopping trip to Tokyo’s Akihabara electrics district, Ikuna stumbled across manufacture Hac’s Oden Maker (it’s also available here through Amazon for 2,970 yen [US$29]). The plug-in cooking appliance is compact enough to fit on a small table or desk, yet spacious enough to allow you to cook multiple types of oden simultaneously.
▼ There’s a removable divider to keep things organized, and you can also use the Oden Maker as a hot plate.
To test the machine out, Ikuna also picked up a pack of oden ingredients containing the necessary broth plus sliced friend tofu, thick-cut daikon radish, chikuwa fish sausage, and eggs (though technically you can make anything into oden as long as you …continue reading
After visiting Taisanji, the first temple on the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage, I headed down the mountain and returned to my room in Tokushima City. There was still some hours of daylight left so I went to the Tourist Information Office and asked about any good gardens for viewing the Fall colors.They only had one to suggest, Zuiganji Temple at the base of Bizan Mountain. Founded in 1614 it is a
A sad day for travellers, especially Seishun 18 ticket holders.
While Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains get all the limelight on the international stage, where they’re loved for their punctuality, speed and spick-and-span interiors, there are plenty of other Japanese trains equally deserving of our love and attention.
The Moonlight Nagara is one such train, reliably ferrying passengers across the land on long-haul overnight trips between Tokyo and Gifu, spanning a total of five prefectures and covering a distance of roughly 442 kilometres (275 miles).
▼ The six-hour-40-minute train journey takes around nine hours by car, using expressways.
The current rapid overnight train service, operated by Central Japan Railway Company and East Japan Railway Company, has been active since 1996. However, in recent years its popularity has declined due to competition from cheap overnight bus services, and after its schedule was reduced to busy seasonal periods only, it’s now been announced that the service will stop running altogether.
▼ The 165 series Moonlight Nagara in 2000
▼ And the 183/189 series in 2007
The announcement came as sad news for many, but nobody is feeling the loss more than users of the Seishun 18 Kippu. This discounted ticket package–limited for use during four weeks in winter, five weeks in spring, and around seven weeks in summer–contains five days’ worth of unlimited travel onlocal and regular Japan Railways express trains for just 2,410 yen (US$23.24) per day.
Amazura was a popular sweetener among Heian aristocrats but its method of production was lost to time after the widespread diffusion of sugar.
With the proliferation of patisseries and baked goods in Japan today, it’s easy to forget that table sugar wasn’t always around. It’s believed to have been introduced to Japan in 754 via envoys from the Tang Dynasty in China but didn’t become widely used until the Edo period (1603-1868). Up until then, another plant-derived sweetener, called amazura, was enjoyed by aristocrats of the Heian period (794-1185). It was often noted in classical works of literature of the time, such as The Pillow Book, Konjaku Monogatarishu, and Uji Shui Monogatari, which detailed its use drizzled over shaved ice or boiled in a gruel with diced sweet potatoes for a dish known as imogayu that was served at aristocratic banquets.
▼ An excerpt from Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book (completed in 1002) references amazura at the top of the third line from the right.
Fast forward to the Reiwa period (2019-present). Ritsumeikan University Assistant Professor Yukihiro Komatsu, a member of the Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization, is now attempting to recreate amazura for the modern age. It may sound like a fun and fairly straightforward project, but here’s the catch: both the list of raw materials and production method used to make amazura all but disappeared from written records after sugar became more widely available in the Edo Period.
▼ Komatsu introduces amazura and his research goals in this short video.
In order to accomplish his goal, Komatsu has appealed for the public’s support on Bluebacks Outreach, a unique crowdfunding website which aims to bridge scientific inquiries with …continue reading
Matsuya is branching out beyond typical Japanese curries, and we couldn’t be happier!
While Japan’s own sweet, mild curry is making a splash on distant shores, one of the country’s homegrown restaurant chains, Matsuya, is taking a leaf from various other countries’ curry cookbooks. Though Matsuya serves a perfectly adequate spicy curry of its own– the Gorogoro Chicken Curry — it’s a seasonal item and is cycled out frequently like most of Matsuya’s ever-evolving menu.
There’s a spicy, delicious light on the horizon, though. Matsuya has turned to Thailand for inspiration for their latest addition to the roster, with a new Massaman curry option being tested at a limited number of their stores. A regular serving costs 730 yen (US$7.05), a pricey option when contrasted with the 490 yen standard Japanese curry. The banner promoting the curry does bill it as “allegedly the most delicious food in the world”, though, so it seems like a reasonable price in that context.
While the true origins of Massaman are still hotly debated, as it’s argued that the dish contains considerable Indian and Malay influence, it’s commonly associated with Thai cuisine. The name “Massaman” itself is a corruption of the word musulman, an old Persian word for “Muslim”. Due to its Islamic origins, the dish is most commonly cooked with chicken as the main meat, but variations with beef or goat meat are popular too.
Our Japanese-language reporter, Tasuku Egawa, headed to one chain that was serving the curry and promptly placed an order.
▼ Matsuya’s version uses chicken.
It arrived promptly, on one of Matsuya’s typical lacquered trays. His curry was, naturally, accompanied by a healthy serving …continue reading