Cats trapped in circles!

24 Oct Featured Image -- 11098

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


In a documentary about the making of Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki is shown in his studio explaining how he wants a certain scene to look. When the dragon’s jaws are wrenched open, he says, it should look like a dog clenching its teeth, gums bared. Faced with blank stares at this analogy, he asks the animators if any of them have a dog. “I had a cat once”, offers up one young man. “A cat!” exclaims Miyazaki in despair, before whisking the entire team off to a vet’s surgery to have a closer look at some canine mouths.

Cats and dogs, as we know, are quite different, and one thing that sets them apart is cats’ contrariness. A dog’s reward is pleasing you, while a cat’s reward is pleasing itself. Getting a cat to do what you want, therefore, can be extraordinarily difficult. Unless, that is, you can manage to convince your cat

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The World’s Coolest Neighborhood is in Tokyo

22 Oct

Vogue Magazine has made a list of the “Fifteen Coolest Neighborhoods in the World“.

(It’s here.)

And they ranked a trendy neighborhood in Tokyo as the coolest in the world.

According to Vogue, the fifteen coolest neighborhoods in the world are:

15. Dashanzi, Beijing, China

14. Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

13. Hackney, London, UK

12. Silver Lake, Los Angeles, USA

11. Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

10. Zona Rosa & La Condesa, Mexico City, Mexico

9. Wynwood, Miami, USA

8. Brera, Milan, Italy

7. Bushwick, New York City, USA

6. Canal Saint Martin, Paris, France

5. Centro, Sao Paulo, Brazil

4. Tiong Bahru, Singapore

3. Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden

2. West Queen West, Toronto, Canada

1. 東京都下北沢 (Shimo-Kitazawa, Tokyo, Japan)

2014-10-20 14.27.12-1

I have been to Shimo-Kitazawa many times. It’s a nice area, so I was happy to see it listed as the world’s coolest neighborhood.

I don’t read Vogue magazine…I found out about this ranking because it was mentioned on a Japanese TV morning show that I watch.

A picture that I took of a storefront in 下北沢 (Shimo-Kitazawa, Tokyo).

Have you ever been to Shimo-Kitazawa?

The Japanese Empress’ 80th Birthday

20 Oct

Here is a well-written article about the Japanese Empress’ 80th birthday today:

Two dozen years

17 Oct

Today is October 17th, 2014. I came to Japan on October 17th, 1990. Twenty-four years ago.

I was born and grew up in America. But I only lived there for twenty years. I’ve lived most of my life in Japan now.

I’m sure you can imagine, Japan was pretty different 24 years ago.
Even Japanese people in their twenties or younger can’t imagine if I tell them what Japan was like when I first came here!

One big change is that there was no internet or cell-phones when I came here.
Everyone, including me, had phone cards for pay-phones in their wallet. If it was announced that a train was running late, suddenly everyone on the platform would line up to use the payphones (that used to be on every train platform) to call their office to tell that they might be late.
Nowadays, people take out their cell-phone to either call or e-mail their employer if the train is late.

Also, train stations didn’t have escalators or elevators like they all do now.
If someone was in a wheelchair, the train station staff would carry his wheelchair up or down the stairs!
When my kids were babies, my wife and I had to carry their strollers up and down the train station stairs when we used the train.

Now, all train stations in Japan have automatic ticket gates and IC cards (I wrote a post here about them).
But when I first came to Japan, every train station…even the big major ones…had staff with hole punchers at the ticket gates.

To enter the train station, commuters would hand their ticket to one of these guys and get the ticket punched and handed back to them.
Then when they exited, these guys collected the tickets…and they’d tell you if you owed more money on your fare.
They were really fast! Especially at busy stations like Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station!

Punching a ticket

As I said, there were no cell-phones or email in 1990. Nowadays, if the person you’re meeting is running late, you can just call or email their cell-phone. Life wasn’t always like that.
When I first came to Japan, there were chalkboards at every train station that anyone could use to write a message to the person they were waiting for.
There were always messages on them such as “To ____, I went ahead. I’ll wait for you at the restaurant.” or “To_____, you were late so I went home.

These were commonly used in Japan before cell-phones.

I’ve seen a lot of changes in Japan since 1990. I wonder what changes the next decades will bring!

Are these types of manner posters unique to Japan?

16 Oct Featured Image -- 11063


I’ve written posts about these manner posters before…


Here :

and even A/C ones are kinda similar:

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

Tokyo Metro Manner Posters 1
Sometimes the hustle and bustle of big city life in Tokyo makes you forget your manners. Women who don’t have enough time in the morning apply makeup on bumpy train rides, people doze off on the shoulder of their neighboring passenger, and the occasional man will clip his finger nails. With most people commuting by train and working very long hours, sometimes there’s no time to do things at home. And sometimes, you’re just so tired and stressed that you don’t care that you are behaving badly.

As a result, back in 2008, the Tokyo Metro system launched a three-year-long campaign aimed at reminding subway passengers to mind their manners while riding the trains. It featured the slogan “Please do it at home” or “Please do it again” alongside an illustration of the featured manner or rule. All posters are written in Japanese and English, some featuring hilariously outrageous and…

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Review & giveaway 9: Tokyo Travel Pack

13 Oct

Once again, Tuttle Books has given me a book to review on my blog.

This time I will be reviewing “Tokyo Travel Pack: Your Guide to Tokyo’s Best Sights for Every Budget (Travel Guide & Map)” by Rob Goss.


And, as before, Tuttle Books will be giving one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!
(The details of the giveaway will be at the end of this review.)

This book is perfect for anyone who is planning for visit Tokyo, whether it’s their first visit here or they’ve been here a number of times. Also for anyone simply interested in Japan, particularly Tokyo.

The author, Rob Goss, has lived in Tokyo since 1999. He has written a number of books and magazine articles about Tokyo.

This guidebook offers many useful tips, including common phrases in Japanese, that would be very helpful to visitors in Tokyo.

It has a list of thirteen “Don’t Miss” sights in Tokyo with photos and an explanation of each. It also tells the opening hours, admission costs and directions to get to each one.

The next chapter of “Tokyo Travel Pack: Your Guide to Tokyo’s Best Sights for Every Budget (Travel Guide & Map)” gives a more detailed explanation of some popular areas in and around Tokyo.

And then, it also includes the book author’s recommendations for hotels, restaurants, nightspots, shopping, family-oriented attractions, museums, gardens, festivals and more!

There are maps of parts of this huge city throughout the book. But also includes a pull-out map of the heart of metropolitan Tokyo.

One small error I noticed is the list of Japan’s National Holidays. The dates of the holidays are no longer current since Japan adapted the “Happy Monday” system and now some holidays always fall on a Monday (for example, today (October 13th), coincidentally, is a holiday in Japan. Today (the day I’m writing this review) is 「体育の日」 (“Sports Day” (or “Fitness day”)). The book lists this holiday as October 10th. Until the year 2000, that was the date of this holiday…but it’s now the ‘second Monday of October‘.
This isn’t a big deal. Only four Japanese holidays have been affected by the “Happy Monday” system. And the rest of the information in the book is correct and current.

I recommend this book to anyone visiting, living in or interested in Tokyo.

Tokyo Travel Pack: Your Guide to Tokyo’s Best Sights for Every Budget (Travel Guide & Map)” can be purchased through Amazon at this link.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Publishers is going to give one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

To enter in the drawing, simply submit this form by 2014 October 25th:

** (Also, there is still time to enter the drawing for a free set of beautiful origami paper! Click here.)

Nine cats in a stroller draws crowds in Tokyo

13 Oct Featured Image -- 11016

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


Japan is known for having a unique culture that perfectly balances two extreme worlds of tradition and fun. From cat cafes to cosplay-clad posers in Harajuku, it’s the light-hearted, anything-goes attitude on the streets of Tokyo that brightens the serious, traditional side of society which likes to rein in anything different and out of the norm.

It’s little surprise then, that people have been drawn to one of the newcomers to the street scene in Tokyo, a recently retired man who goes by the name “Kyushu Neko Ojisan” (lit. The Cat Man from Kyushu). Retirement for this gent means he’s now free to walk his nine adorable cats in a baby buggy around Tokyo. And his crowds of admirers are growing with every stroll he takes.

View original 340 more words


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