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Traveler takes photos of Japan’s many cats

4 Nov Featured Image -- 13932

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


Though it may not seem like it, Japan is actually a fairly sizable country, with a lot of ground for sightseers to cover. It’s so big, in fact, we imagine it’d be difficult to a regular tourist to see all of it.

But what if you grew up in Japan and spent all your free time traveling around the country? Well, in that case, we bet you’d get to see a whole lot more of it, and for one Japanese Internet user, that exactly describes their life—but with one very cool addition. It turns out this anonymous traveler loves to take photos of cats at their various destinations.

Check out the awesome and adorable photo album below!

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Legendary illustrator Noriyoshi Ohrai, RIP

29 Oct Featured Image -- 13919

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


It has been announced that Noriyoshi Ohrai—the Japanese illustrator best known for producing remarkable poster art for Metal Gear Solid as well as for films including the Godzilla series and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back—passed away from pneumonia yesterday morning at the age of 79.

With a career spanning over half a century and an impressive portfolio of artworks for novels, games and well-known international movie releases, fans around the world are mourning the loss of a great talent and taking a look back at his extraordinary body of work.

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In Tokyo, even the guinea pigs are orderly!

26 Oct Featured Image -- 13906


My family and I have often enjoyed watching the guinea pigs and other animals return to their pens in an orderly line. It’s cute and amazing!

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


The children’s petting zoo section of Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo is home to a variety of fluffy, domesticated critters that visitors can get up close and personal with. Among the perennial favorites is a group of guinea pigs which have an impressive routine for when it comes time to (literally) hit the hay.

We bet you never thought that a group of rodents could be as well-behaved as these furry little guys!

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Kawagoe Festival

19 Oct 2015-10-18 19.03.35

川越 (Kawagoe) is a town in 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture) north of Tokyo.

Kawagoe has many old traditional temples, shrines, statues and other structures standing, so it is nicknamed 「小江戸」 (Ko-Edo), whcih means “Little Edo” (Edo was Tokyo’s name centuries ago).

Kawagoe has connections to the first shogun, Ieyasu. When the shogun died, his remains were brought to Nikko for burial. On the way there, a ceremony was held at a temple in Kawagoe.
Ieyasu died 400 years ago…so this year’s annual Kawagoe Festival was special.

The Kawagoe Festival was held yesterday and the day before. We went to it yesterday. (Click here to see this images in a slideshow):

Quarter Century!

17 Oct

On 1990 October 17th, I came to Japan from America. Twenty-five years ago today!
I have been living in Japan longer than I lived in the U.S.

Twenty-five years already! 1990 doesn’t feel like it was all that long ago…but twenty-five before 1990 was 1965 and that was before I was even born! America saw a lot of changes between 1965 and 1990…and Japan has seen many changes since 1990.

I wrote a post on this date last year and told about some of the many changes I’ve seen in Japan since I first arrived.
(Click here to read it.)

In this post, to mark the quarter-century that I’ve been living in Japan, I decided to list (in no particular order) twenty-five reasons that I love living in Tokyo. (Many of them have to do with the fact that Japan is a very safe place to raise children!)

    1. No guns – I dislike guns and see no reason for “common people” to own one. In Japan, only the military, the police and hunters (after passing an extensive testing and screening procedure) legally have guns. The Japanese police are armed, but very rarely draw their weapon…it would be an absolute last resort.So, there aren’t shootings in Japan. I witnessed a deadly shooting at my high school in Florida when I was a teenager…that’s something I never wanted my children to experience.
    2. Low crime rate – Tokyo is a huge, densely-populated metropolitan city…but still has very little crime.
    3. Punctuality – Everything and everyone is on time. Trains, and even city buses, arrive on the scheduled time. Almost 100% of the time.
    4. Convenient – There are so many stores, restaurants, and services in Tokyo! You can get anything you need…without going too far.
    5. Health care – Health insurance in Japan pays for 70% of hospital, clinic, dental and ambulance costs.
    6. School system – I wrote a post about how I feel that Japanese schools are better than American ones.
    7. Prices – Many people have an image that Japan is very expensive. But, in my experience, it’s mostly cheaper than America! Amusement parks, movie tickets, groceries, restaurant meals, haircuts, and on and on are all similarly priced, or even cheaper than, in America! Gasoline is about the only thing priced lower in America.
    8. Restaurants – The restaurants in Japan are well-known for being the best! Everything from fast-food to family restaurants to gourmet establishments all have excellent food and service. There are more Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo than any other city in the world!
    9. Convenience stores – Japanese convenience stores are great! You can get beer, whiskey, snacks, hot meals, and more 24 hours a day. But also…you can buy postage stamps, concert tickets, mail packages, pay bills, and use an ATM.
    10. Vending machines – Japanese vending machines are everywhere and they sell all kinds of things: hot drinks and cold drinks (such as tea, coffee, water, juice, cola and beer), umbrellas, stamps, snacks, fruit, and much more. They accept payment by coin, ¥1000 bill (about US$10), cell-phone, or IC card. Many have digital displays that show the weather forecast and use facial recognition to recommend a drink.
    11. Kindness -Even in a big city such as Tokyo, you can often see acts of kindness shown to others.
    12. Thoughtfulness – Japanese people are very good at considering other people’s feelings, and that makes living in a densely populated city much easier.
    13. Politeness – Japanese are well-known for their politeness.
    14. Sightseeing – Modern architecture, traditional castles, shrines and temples, and beautiful nature…Japan has a lot to see.
    15. Amusement parks – Japan has all kinds of amusement parks…big, small, water parks, and theme parks. Probably most well-know is Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea…they’re the only Disney parks in the world that aren’t owned by Disney. Rather, they’re owned by a Japanese company and licensed from Disney. Tokyo Disneyland is actually a lot cheaper than Florida’s Disney World!
    16. Service – Service is always top-notch in Japan. Even at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores!
    17. Quality – Even Daiso (Japan’s version of a “dollar store”) sells quality merchandise.
    18. Statues and robotsGundam (both a statue and a “life-size” robot), Statue of Liberty, Godzilla, Hachiko, and so many more. I’ve written many posts, with photos…click here.
    19. Four seasons – I grew up in Florida. There’s no snow, no colorful autumn leaves…basically only one season there. I know many places in the world have four seasons…but many don’t. And in Tokyo, each season is an even 1/4 of the year. And each season in Japan is so unique!
    20. Festivals – There are so many excellent festivals in Japan! I’m a member of a great one! (Click here to see photos).
    21. Museums – Museums of art, Japan’s history, ramen, cartoon characters, beetles, and so many more! They’re all so interesting!
    22. Peaceful and quiet – Tokyo can be noisy, but generally, Japan (even the big cities such as Tokyo) are nice and quiet! Have you ever ridden a train in Japan. Most people don’t talk…and the ones who are talking do so quietly. It’s nice.
    23. No tipping – Not restaurants, not hotels, nor barbers or taxis. Leaving a tip isn’t done in Japan.
    24. Unique areas – Different cities and areas of Japan are unique. But, not only that…even in Tokyo, the different areas are unique. Ginza, Akihabara, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ueno, etc…what do you want to do or buy? There’s a section of Tokyo that’s best for whatever you’re looking for.
    25. Never boring – I have been living in Japan for twenty-five years now…and I still enjoy going out and about.

Could you find the proper restroom?

16 Oct

In Japan, nearly every public restroom has a blue picture of a man on the men’s room door and a red picture of a woman on the ladies’ room door.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, especially at places that don’t get many foreign customers, the doors with be marked with black kanji symbols for male and female on the respective doors.

Would you be able to find the correct restroom? Take this two-question quiz to see.

For this quiz, this symbol will be “no. 1”.


For this quiz, this symbol will be “no. 2”.

How did you do? Did you know the answers, of just guess them? Tell me in the comments section!

The “Information Age”

9 Oct

Unlike people my kids’ age or younger, people my age and older grew up before there was an internet. Young people can’t imagine it, but we grew up without telephones in our pockets, without cameras on our person at all times (and when we did carry a camera, we didn’t take photos of things such as what we ate for dinner…because cameras used film with a very limited number of photos)…and we also weren’t under a constant barrage of trivial information.

I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate the internet and modern technology…but I’m glad I grew up in the 「昭和時代」 (period before the ’90s). We can understand and use the internet…but we also know how to get along without it – I’m not in a panic if I forget my cell-phone and I know how to find an address in Japan without “Google Maps“.

I do appreciate Google though!
Today I noticed that the Google logo (in Japan, at least) looks like this:

When I hovered my mouse over it, a caption explaining it was displayed:

It says 「プラハの天文時計 建立 605周年」 which means “The 605th anniversary of the building of the Prague Astronomical Clock

I had never even heard of the “Prague Astronomical Clock” before. In fact, I didn’t even know what an “astronomical clock” was!
But, after the clicked the Google logo, I could read about it.

The clock tower of the 「プラハ天文時計」 (“Prague Astronomical Clock“)

I only read a little bit…but now I kinda understand that an astronomical clock shows the current relative location of the sun, moon and some planets, as well as the current time.
And I learned that the “Prague Astronomical Clock” is the world’s oldest astronomical clock that still works properly! It was built on 1410 October 9th! 605 years ago.

The clock face of the “Prague Astronomical Clock“. I have no idea how to read it!

Since I was kid, I’ve always been interested in monsters (here’s a post I wrote about monsters)…so I like that the Prague Astronomical Clock has “death” ring in each hour!

“Death” ringing in the hour on the Prague Astronomical Clock.

Thanks Google for teaching something new today that I probably never would’ve learned otherwise!

How about you? Have you already known about this clock? Have you seen it (in person)?


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