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Archives:


"Memoirs of a Geisha" Film

Hulu is finally available in Japan, for more money and with less content than in the US, but it is nice to be able to see even a limited amount of programming. It seems like they are releasing according to how much translation is done, however, I guess I'll take it.One film that piqued my interest was "Memoirs of a Geisha", after having put off viewing it, having heard negative reviews. I thought it
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Japan Girl Talk - The Secret Code 2011

The creatures called "gyaru" (teenage girls who hang out in the youth spots in Tokyo) have their own slang language that morphs rapidly. Nobody, even them, can keep up with it. Morning TV had a special segment about the latest "gyaru-go" language trends, which I thought were worth sharing:"Itsumen" - いつメンFrom itsumo-no-menbaa いつものメンバー. The usual group we hang out with."kamacho"
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Japan and Its People are Unique

At least that is what they tell me! I like Japan and have had some interesting, enjoyable and indeed unique experiences here, otherwise I would not have stayed in this country since 1987. But over the years, I've had an earful of people telling me directly or indirectly how unique Japan and its people are, and I've had to burst more than one person's bubble. Sometimes incorrectly. A couple examples
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"Gyaru-go" Girl Japanese

Mezamashi TV had a segment on the lastest gyaru language. If you're not familiar, gyaru are the sort of schoolgirls who hang out in Shibuya or Harajuku, dress in the latest fashion and speak in a sort of code. Here's the three I remember: ムカTK mukaTK - mukatsuku, to be pissed off. The original's just as easy, ladies. モレる moreru - um, to be dressed up, with your hair in a bun with cute
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Bribe Desserts are Just Sour

Since the Lockheed scandal brought Kakuei Tanaka down in the late 1970's, Japan has seen many and varied incidents, their occurrence only escalating in recent years. Even the Tanaka protege Ichiro Ozawa, who has been stressing a (rather two-faced) populist agenda of late, is now tainted by a bribe scandal via a top aide accused of taking corporate donations. Ozawa san, so much for that "for the people"
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Beiju - 88th Birthday

In Japan, a person's 88th birthday is called "beiju" and is a special celebration where yellow- or gold-colored gifts are given. The "bei" of beiju comes from the three kanji characters for eight "八", ten "十", and eight "八", or "hachijuu-hachi" (88), which combined together form the character kome, or rice "米". You can see one eight flipped upside-down on the top, the other on the bottom, and
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Support the Local Stores - Imamiya

This is our local store "Imamiya", which is not as cheap as the local giant chain, but has a certain charm. It has been in business for quite a long time, but recently seems like it is a little bit run down. These places get driven out of business by the big guys, so I like to shop there when I can. Support your local store!
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Japanese Evacuation Centers are Well-Marked

Japan is obviously prone to earthquakes, so there are designated evacuation areas or "hinanjo" here and there, usually in parks or stadiums (stadia?). This one says it is down in the US Military Fukaya Communications Base "tsushintai" in Japanese under the words "EVACUATION AREA". If you live here, keep and eye out for these markers, because that is where most people will proceed in the event of a
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Kintaro-ame by anzyAprico on Flickr

This is typical Kintaro-ame next to kompeito. Originally uploaded to Flickr by anzyAprico
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"Kintaro Ame" Chopstick Stand at Robataya

Went to Robataya in Roppongi last night, and got this shot of some ceramic chopstick stands that look like "Kintaro-ame" candy. Kintaro's the guy on the right, and he is said to be Sakata no Kintoki, a Heian Period samurai. There is a traditional story about him that Japanese children learn, in which Kintaro, born with great strength, goes on to conquer a group of "oni" or demons. Kintaro-ame is a
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Brush Me Sign

This sign on a door says "brush me" or "touch me" - "furete kudasai". Little sensors near the sign on the door frame respond to your light touch, and the door opens. I must have some kind of special gaikokujin aura, because I can never get the things to work - I have to literally touch the sensor itself and not just the sign. The newfangled Japan Rail touchpads on the ticket machines don't work for
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Baru Tapas in Hiroo, Tokyo

Baru is a great Tapas place in Tokyo's Hiroo district between Tengenji and Platinum Street. Great Tapas and wine, and it is always packed with good-looking ladies (unless a certain Jason is there :). The master is a personable guy, who speaks a little English and a little Spanish. Go. You won't regret it.
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Jack, Anna, Phil and Rick Tour Kamakura

Jack, Anna (pictured), Phil and I tried our hand at "omikuji" at the big Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine in Kamakura. Omikuji are fortunes that you draw by shaking a box of numbered sticks, the number corresponding to a white piece of paper with the fortune written on it. You can pray to improve your fortunes by folding and tying the omikuji paper onto a contraption shrines have, with horizontal wires.
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Kodomo Hyakutouban no Ie - "Kids' Emergency House"

Neighborhoods in Japan have people join the "Kids' Emergency House" network, and affix these signs to their gates. If a child is in trouble, they are taught in school that they can go to a house designated this way, for help.
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