24
500 yen
7-11
88
abalone
aging population
allegheny college
allergy
Ameagari no yozora ni
asakusa
baru
Beach
beiju
birthday
black and white
bookstores
Brasserie Bec
Carpenters
cedar pollen
cellphone
Chikara Saito
Chinese Lantern Plant
chorus
colorful
conservation
construction
conti et mer
Convenience
culture
cutie honey
dai-ichi life
delivery
DIY
Doki-doki Camp
doppler
Drop
drugstore
earthquake
eiken
elections
emergency house
Emperor Meiji
English
Engrish
evacuation area
experiment
Facebook
fiberglass mascot
Folk
food
free
freespot
French
Gadgets
gaijin
Gargling
George Kano
Getting Around
glasses
glenn wurst
global warming
Goroawase
Gov't of Japan
gumisawa totsuka
Gyaru
haiku
hay fever
Health
hinanjo
hiroo
Hitotsu Yane no Shita
Horror
hozuki
humor
Humoresque
Ichiro Ozawa
imamiya
Imperial
Informa
Insurance
Interpretation
intestines
iphone
iPhone Case
Isojin
Italian
Jack Bauer
japan
Japan Holidays
Japan Rail
Japanese
japanese tv
JR
kafunsho
Kakaki
Kakuei Tanaka
kamakura
kamogawa
kamogawa-kan
Kanako Yanagihara
Kazuo Zaitsu
kenkoshindan
kinataro-ame
kinokuniya
kintaro
Kiosk
Kiyoshiro Imawano
Koji Suzuki
Language
leisure
living
Living in Japan
local shop
Lockheed
Manners Posters
Marine Day
maruzen
matsuri
megane drug
metro
Mezamashi TV
MHLW
miniskirt
Mixi
mizkan
monochrome
Music
Musicians
Nakamise
New Years
newbie
NHK
nihonjinron
niigata
nissan figaro
no smoking
nobiru
novartis
Ocean
Odakyu Line
omikuji
One Coin
Oshogatsu
OTC drugs
PAL
passions
photography
pillars
poetry
ponyo
post office
prime minister
proficiency
Pronunciation
Ray-Out
restaurants
retro
Reunion
Review
RIP
robataya
roppongi
RT-P1LC4/B
ryokan
Saboten no Hana
Salaryman Neo
Salaryman Taiso
sandwiches
sarasen
satire
School Songs
Seashore
Senryu
senryuu
settai
Shinjuku
shishamo
signage
siren
smoke-free
snow
SNS
softbank
sound
Sousuke Kawamoto
spectacles
Street Jazz
Street Performers
subway
suica
Swine Flu
tapas
Thierry de Baillon
Toilet Paper
tokyo
Tokyo Metro
Tokyo Rail and Subway Map
tokyo university
totsuka
Trains
Trends
Tulip
Twitter
Ugai
Umi no Hi
uniqueness
us military fukaya communications base
Vendor
vinegar
virgin adventures
Vollmer Design
wanseg
waterless urinal
Welcome
wicket
wifi
wired
wireless
yaesu book center
yakuza ramen
Yoyogi-Uehara
yuuri
zaditen
zoff
zushi
キオスク
レイアウト
ワン コイン
人間ドック
海の日

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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Panku Bubu Wins M1 Grandprix 2009

Manzai duo "Panku Bubu" won the M1 Grandprix this year, in a unanimous decision over Waraimeshi and Non Style. I was rooting for Waraimeshi, but there you go. Panku Bubu won 10 million yen (about 100K USD). Better luck next year, Waraimeshi.
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39 Goroawase! - Japanese Word Play

One fun and unique feature of Japanese language is the ease with which you can create easy-to-remember phrases from numbers. I assembled a little database of these "goroawase" mnemonic helpers, for students of Japanese to see. Check out this page, and contribute if you can. (Can you guess what 39 is, before you look at the database?)
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Yanagihara Kanako Senryu Haiku

Kanako Yanagihara is so popular these days, that shop assistants are starting to impersonate her right back! I heard a shop full of assistants doing their best Kanako schtick, so a senryu haiku came to mind: 君は今 kimi wa ima 加奈子さんより kanako san yori 柳原 yanagihara What I mean is, "you're more Yanagihara than Yanagihara Kanako".
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Satirical Shibamata Senryuu

The elections are again upon us here in Japan, and the satirists are hard at work writing Senryuu (川柳) poems about the subject. Senryuu are like Haiku in that they have the well-known 5-7-5 sound structure, but they differ in that they are not so much about mother nature as about human nature. You can see some Senryuu from my post about the annual Salary-man Senryuu competition held by Dai-ichi
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Japan Rail is More Gaijin

I noticed something interesting. The JR East Japan announcements about the next station are done in a female voice, and she used to say the station names with proper Japanese pronunciation. The next station is, SHIMbashi. They've re-recorded some of the announcements though, seemingly with the same "voice talent", and there's a subtle difference. She now says the station names with a "gaijin" accent.
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Japan Marine Day "Umi no Hi"'s Roots

The third Monday in July is "Marine Day" here in Japan, called "Umi no Hi" (海の日) in Japanese. It was established in 1996, a few years into my life in Japan. It's common knowledge that the day marks the return of the Emperor Meiji from a boat trip. More specifically, it's the day of his return to Yokohama port in Meiji 9 (1876), from a royal light-house inspection tour to the northernmost prefectures,
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Kenkoshindan Health Check

My wife and I did our yearly "kenkoshindan" health check via our insurance provider the other day. If you are on the national insurance plan or one of the big alternative providers, you're supposed to get this kenkoshindan once a year. My wife and my secretary at work badgered me into submission, so I finally took the plunge and got the big one-day "ningen dock" (人間ドック, and kind of like "human
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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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"One Coin" Services All the Rage in Japan

Japan morning TV reported that "One Coin" (ワンコイン) services are all the rage these days in Japan, due to the down economy. What this phrase means is that you can buy a good or service with a single 500 yen coin, or about USD 5.00. Indeed, you can see them here and there: "Makudonarudo" McDonald's has a 500 yen value set. "One Coin" lunches at salary-man lunch joints. Short foot massages
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Tokyo Metro "Do It At Home" Manners Posters

Artist Bunpei Yorifuji (寄藤文平) is creating a series of manner posters for the Tokyo metro, around the theme of "Do It At Home". Yorifuji was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 1973, and founded Bunpei Ginza in 2000 to specialize in mainly Art Direction, Illustration and Book Design. Yorifuji's manners posters address the most common complaints heard by the Metro, such as people who apply
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Ray-Out's iPhone "Jacket" Case Review, DIY Fix for D-Ring Problem

I purchased Ray-Out's reasonably-priced leather "Jacket" case, model RT-P1LC4/B, perhaps three months ago from Yodobashi Camera. I was looking for a case that had a "strap loop" so that I could hang the iPhone around my neck for going to meetings or lunch, as I don't trust myself to put the iPhone in my pocket and have it survive even one day! The Ray-Out leather jacket was one option, and the other
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Drop - Enough to Scare the Crap Out of You

"Drop" is a horror story novella written by Koji Suzuki, the writer of best-selling horror stories such as "Ring" and "Rasen" (Spiral). Suzuki san was born in 1957 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, and his books have sold more than 8 million copies. Thing is, Drop's not your run-of-the-mill novella; it's printed on toilet paper. The Japanese summer is a time for telling horror stories around a campfire
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Street Jazz from Kano, Saito, Kawamoto

I've seen this good, energetic "Street Jazz" trio at JR Shinjuku before, but today I waited for a good moment and got some materials from them. The musicians were George Kano on drums, Chikara Saito on Alto Sax, and (probably) Sousuke Kawamoto on upright bass. The flyers I got were pretty clear on who the sax and drum players were, but I'm not so sure about the bass player. Either way, they are all
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Family Reunion Sad

Every year, we have a family reunion during the New Year holiday "oshogatsu". The photo in this post is of the 2009 edition. This is A Big Deal for the family here, and they do it without fail. Missing it is also A Big Deal, so I think we've missed it once in the past 15 years. I gather it's an Asian thing to have these big family gatherings, but I always feel like the odd man out, when the conversation
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Finally. OTC Drugs at 7-11

The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law "PAL" was revised to allow convenience stores like 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart or others to sell most over-the-counter drugs, so long as they have a clerk who has registered and qualified with the local government. The fact that they no longer need a pharmacist is a big cost-saving difference from before, that also allows a big new income stream for the conbinis. Cloudy
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Salaryman Senryu "Sarasen" Winners

Dai-ichi Life Insurance has announced their latest Sarariiman Senryuu (Salaried Worker Senryuu, サラリーマン川柳) competition winners. It's the 22nd year for the competition, and people vote on the best humorous senryu that come from the daily life of salaried workers and the news. Senryu are like Haiku but are less about nature than about human life, and you may recall that haiku are the poems
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Saboten no Hana Lyrics - Kazuo Zaitsu

Kazuo Zaitsu (kanji: 財津和夫) of the Japanese band Tulip, is the singer of a favorite song of mine, "Saboten no Hana" or The Cactus Flower, which is a song about hope despite love lost. It was the theme song of an enormously popular 1993 drama called "Hitotsu Yane no Shita" or Under One Roof. Zaitsu san has a unique and pleasant voice that I like, and this song always brings a tear to my eye.
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Best Tokyo Subway Map: Vollmer Design

Vollmer Design's superior map of the Tokyo rail and subway system is a must for any visitor to or resident of Tokyo. The map is printed on A3 paper, but is folded small to the size of "3 x 1 2/3 matches" according to the nicely-designed Informa website where the map is available. Very affordable, even inexpensive, at JPY 270 yen online, it's less than the cost of a Starbucks latte, or maybe a typical
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How to Gargle (Ugai Garagara)

Now, this is serious. Today on "Mezamashi Terebi," a popular morning TV show, they had a fairly long, scientific-sounding introduction to "ugai" or gargling. They stated that it's only really popular here in Japan, where all kids are taught "ugai-tearai," or gargling and hand-washing, from when they are toddlers. They had mini-interviews with a bunch of foreigners asking if they had the culture of
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Salaryman Neo's "Salaryman Calisthenics"

This clip is from the TV comedy Salaryman Neo. It's a skit called "Salaryman Taiso" (Taiso = Calisthenics). It's based on the famous, known-by-every-Japanese NHK "rajio taiso", which started off as a calisthenics show on the radio, to piano music, which all Japanese learn. NHK is the epitome of conservative, so it's quite funny to see Japanese "taking the piss" in this irreverant way.
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RIP Kiyoshiro Imawano

Kiyoshiro Imawano, the hugely-popular lead singer of RC Succession died of lymphatic disease at the age of 59. He'll be dearly missed. One of their hits, "Ameagari no Yozora ni" is representative of his music, and you can hear it on YouTube. I thought I'd translate the lyrics to it. The original Japanese is followed by romanized Japanese, followed by my English approximation. It's full of double-meanings,
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English Bookstores in Japan

Here are some English bookstores in Japan, but mostly in Tokyo or Yokohama where I live, for the visitor or resident: Maruzen in the Oazo complex (pictured) in front of JR Tokyo station on the Marunouchi side. 1-6-4 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Tel - 03-5218-5100 Yaesu Book Center on the Yaesu side of JR Tokyo station. 2-5-1 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8456 Tel - 03-3281-1811 Kinokuniya Shinjuku
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Thierry de Baillon's Article on Social Media in Japan

Thierry de Baillon wrote an article about Japan and social media acceptance, which I thought I'd comment on. I agree that Social Networking Service acceptance, or lack thereof, is not a simple matter of Japanese being "shy". Just go to Shibuya, Harajuku, or Kabukicho to prove otherwise! I think SNS acceptance is driven by the marketing of the SNS, by whether it "feels right" and "fits right" for
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Kakaki Italian in Kugenuma Kaigan near Enoshima

During my 56 km bike ride today, I ate at this nice little Italian place called "Kakaki" in Kugenuma Kaigan near Enoshima, at Kugenuma-bashi, along Rt. 134 the coast road. Address: Kugenuma Kaigan 2-17-21, Fujisawa Tel: 0466-34-4483 Hours: 11:30 AM-14:30 PM, 17:30 PM-21:00 PM, Closed Mondays Nearest Station: Kugenuma Kaigan (5 min walk from there) Parking: 4 spaces The owner, presumably Mr. Kakaki
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Yamate Brass 21st Annual - 2009 - ABBA Medley

Daughter unit 1's school did their 21st annual concert at the Kamakura Center for the Performing Arts in early April. This is an Abba medley, probably because of the popularity of Mamma Mia in Japan this year.
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Conti et Mer - Great Tokyo Sandwiches

If you're longing for some great sandwiches in Tokyo, try Conti et Mer, who have a good range of "French-style", take-out sandwich boxes and sweets, and party platters. Conti et Mer has three shops, in Jingu-gaien, Shirokane and Ginza, covering most of Tokyo for delivery. Their minimum order is JPY 2000 within their delivery areas, and more for areas outside that. Sandwiches include Ham and Gruyere
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"Brasserie Bec" in Yoyogi Uehara

If you like French food but would like it at a more reasonable price than usual in Tokyo, give Brasserie Bec in Yoyogi-Uehara near Shinjuku, Tokyo a try. A project colleague and I went there last night (a Tuesday), and had an excellent meal, with a good French red. Brasserie Bec's impossible to miss, being right in front of the north exit of Yoyogi Uehara station on the Odakyu line, running from points
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