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Japanese train station safety barriers

17 Mar

Many things in Japan are high-tech far beyond other countries…such as toilets and bathtubs, vending machines, etc.

And the “accessibility” for the handicapped in Japan has become quite good…for example, braille is on many things here including money, alcohol and shampoo (Click here to read a post I wrote about that.)

But there was one thing that I also should be changed…the lack of safety barriers on train and subway platforms.

Thankfully there aren’t very many cases…but on occasion, drunk, blind or careless people have fallen off of the platforms.
And, unfortunately, suicidal people have jumped from them onto the path of oncoming trains.

But, of course, I’m not the only who noticed this problem and more and more train stations are installing safety barriers to keep people from falling (or jumping) from the platforms.
Eventually all of the train stations in Japan will have them!

And, of course, train station platform safety barriers in Japan are high-tech.

Check out this video:

(hat tip: RocketNews24)

Spring Blossom Fragrance Beer

16 Mar

At the start of each season in Japan, the major domestic (Japanese) beer brewers offer special beers related to the season.

I just bought Suntory’s new 発泡酒 (malt liquor beer) for this spring, called 「春咲く薫り」(“Spring Blossom Fragrance”).

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春咲く薫り(はるさくかおり)

I like it. Tastes good!

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Teru-teru Bozu

12 Mar

It’s not cold in Tokyo today…the temperature is very comfortable.  And it’s forecast to stay this warm all week at least.
It’s nice weather today but it’s forecast to rain tomorrow and Friday.

If you have outdoor plans on a day that it’s forecast to rain, what do you do in your country?

In Japan, people (especially children) hang a Teru-Teru-Bozu up.

Do you know what a “Teru-teru-bozu” is?

Teru-Teru-Bozu is a Japanese charm that is supposed to keep rain away.

When Japanese kids have an outdoor event, such as a school “Sports Day” or a field trip, and it’s forecast to rain on that day (and cause the event to be cancelled), they will make a Teru-Teru-Bozu out of cloth or, more commonly, tissue paper and hang it up.

There’s also a song for the Teru-Teru-Bozu that is along the lines of the English song “Rain, Rain, Go Away”.

Actually, I’ve written about Teru-Teru-Bozu once before, five years ago. (Click here to read it.)

Three year anniversary of 3-11-11

11 Mar

Today is 2014 March 14th. It’s already been three years since the huge earthquake and tsunami tragedy that hit Sendai.

I wrote a post on that day (Click here to read it) about four hours after it happened. That earthquake did damage down here in Tokyo…but nothing like what the Tohoku area suffered.

I also wrote a post about a month after the earthquake (Click here to read it) about some of the things the earthquake survivors treasure.

Today, for the tragedy’s third anniversary, the Japan Times newspaper is showing some of the hardest hit areas and the survivors three years after (Click here to see it).

A mother and her daughter attend a candle-lighting event held Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the worst-hit areas. | (photo from: KYODO | caption: Japan Times)

Interview with Rachel Bolan

6 Mar

Do you know who Rachel Bolan is?

He is the bass player of the excellent heavy-metal band Skid Row.

Skid Row. Rachel Bolan is on far-right.

Skid Row are scheduled to play a show in Tokyo on 2014 April 14th to promote their latest album “United World Rebellion: Chapter One“!
This will be Skid Row‘s first visit to Japan since 1995. Nineteen years ago!

Today, Rachel Bolan was kind enough to answer some questions from me for an interview!

My questions are in red.   Rachel Bolan‘s answers are in black.

1. Could you give us a self-introduction, please?

Rachel Bolan, co-founder, bass player and song writer for Skid Row.

2.  The new Skid Row release “United World Rebellion: Chapter One” is quite good.  Will there be a “Chapter Two” ?

Thank you. There will be 3 chapters in all. As a matter of fact, we just finished up recording  United World Rebellion – Chapter Two”. We are very excited about it!

3.  What music / albums do you listen to most often these days?

Lately I have been listening to an artist named Gin Wigmore. She’s great!
I also listen to the music that I grew up with. KISS,
The Ramones, Aerosmith, Queen, etc.

4.  Do you like Japanese food?  Have you ever tried Tokyo’s original dish “Monja-yaki“?

I love food in general, but Japanese is one of my favorites. Japanese meals always seem so well balanced.
I haven’t had
Monja-yaki, but would like to try it. I think every culture has a dish similar to it. My Uncle used to make something like it. It didn’t have dough in it however. Just egg as a binder.
I’m getting hungry. Haha.

5.  Skid Row is scheduled to play a show at the O-East club in the Shibuya area of Tokyo, Japan.  Could you give us a preview of what fans can expect at that show, set-list-wise and otherwise?

We usually try to play something from every album. That gets more difficult as time goes on because our catalog keeps growing and I can’t see us playing a 4 hour show. Haha.
We will play all the songs that you would expect us to play. Some new songs as well as some deep tracks. Lots of energy on stage because we love what we do! We may be getting older, but we haven’t slowed down a bit.

チラシ (Flyer) for Skid Row’s upcoming show in Tokyo.

6.  The last time Skid Row toured Japan was in 1995, wasn’t it?  Why did it take so long for you to finally return?

That’s right. Almost 20 years since our last visit. I have no idea why it’s taken so long. We’ve always had such an amazing time.
I wish we were playing more than one show on this trip. We’ll make sure it doesn’t take another 20 years until we play there again.

7.   How many times have you been to Tokyo?  Are there any sites that you’re particularly looking forward to revisiting?  Or some places in Tokyo that you haven’t seen yet that you would like to visit?

I believe I’ve been to Tokyo 6 times.
I hope to get back to
Kiddieland if its still there!! (It is. It’s actually not too far of a walk from the venue you’ll be playing at!)
Also, Akihabara. I like to check out all the gadgets.
I have never been to Tsukiji fish market.  I’d really like to see it.

8.  How do the fans in Japan compare to those in other countries?

It’s funny. I’ve been asked that question by many journalists from many different countries.  The answer is always the same. Skid Row fans are awesome in every country we go and very similar except for the language they speak. We have the most dedicated fans in the world.  That’s why we called the trilogy ” United World Rebellion “.

9.  Do you receive a lot of fan-mail from Japan?

We do get quite a bit of email from Japan via Facebook and such.

10.  Do you have a message for the fans in Japan?

I just want everyone to know how excited we are to return to your incredible country. And how  much we appreciate your unconditional support over the past 25 years.
There’s not a night I step on stage that I don’t think how great a life that has been afforded to me because of fans like you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart!

Thanks again to Rachel Bolan for taking time to answer my questions.  These are great answers!  Very interesting interview!  I look forward to your show next month!
Thanks also to Skid Row‘s webmaster, Noel Saabye to getting me in contact with Mr. Bolan.

Here are some relevant Skid Row links that everyone should check out:
SkidRow.com
SkidRow’s Official Facebook Page
Hayashi Promotions Skid Row Japan Tour Info

10-year-old letter arrives from daughter lost to tsunami

5 Mar Featured Image -- 8985

tokyo5:

The three-year anniversary of the tragic 2011 March 11th earthquake and tsunami is in six days.
One couple who lost their daughter on that day recently received a letter she had written to them in 2004.

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

110315-N-2653B-144 ‘I wonder if you’ll have a grandchild when you get this letter?’   These are the words written by a woman 10 years ago, before she lost her life in the March 2011 tsunami. Her mother and father were shocked to find the letter containing them arrive in the mail this January. While there was no Hollywood movie ending where their beloved daughter turned up alive and well, the letter has at least given them a chance to hear some of the things she never had the chance to tell them in life.

View original 518 more words

Hina-matsuri

3 Mar

Today is 「ひな祭り」 (Hina-matsuri (“Princess (Doll) Festival“)) in Japan.

It’s sometimes still called “Girls’ Day” because families with daughters set-up special elaborate doll displays of Japanese royalty and eat a special sushi dinner.

The city of Katsuura in Chiba Prefecture is known for their huge Hina-matsuri display.

katsuura-hina1

This year’s display could be seen there until today (2014 March 3rd).

chirashi

Even if you can make it to that area to see their big doll display, Katsuura is still a very beautiful place to visit.

katsuura-torii

Japan in January

1 Mar

Japan is beautiful in January … and every other month!

2014 Olympics have ended

24 Feb

Yesterday was the closing ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Did you watch it? It began after 1:00AM Japan Time…so I didn’t stay up to watch. Was it good?

On the medal count, Russia came in first place after all. America was fourth, and Japan 17th place.

Here’s a list of the top 20 countries by medal count at the 2014 Olympics:

olympics

The gold, silver, and bronze medals winners in Women’s Figure Skating: Korea (center), Japan (left), and Canada (right), respectively.

Japanese tips for visiting America

21 Feb
America and Japan are quite different.  There are many books and websites that give advice to Americans who plan to visit Japan.
And, of course, there are similar books and websites for Japanese who plan to visit America.
Actually, even though I’m an American, I’ve been living in Japan for most of my life now and I have only visited America a few times.  Before the most recent visit (in 2004), I bought one of these books for Japanese visiting America!  I wasn’t sure who to tip or how much I should give, I had never rented a car in America before then, etc.
Anyways, the website MentalFloss has translated some advice Japanese people have written on various websites for their fellow Japanese planning to visit the U.S.
Here are ten of their tips:

1. There is a thing called “Dinner Plates.” And what goes on them is a mighty disappointment.

In Japan, each person eating gets as many individual dishes as needed for the meal. Sometimes more than 10 dishes per person are used. In America, there is a method where a large bowl or dish is placed in the middle of the table, and you take as much as you like from there, and put it on a big dish said to be a “dinner plate.”

In Japan, meals at home are for eating, because your stomach is vacant. At an American’s dinner, there is food, decorations on the table and tableware, and music to produce a fun atmosphere. It is a time for maintaining rich human relationships. Therefore, the meal is as long as 40 minutes. In addition, often the decorative tableware has been handed down mother to daughter, two generations, three generations. In addition, there are even more valuable dishes used for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

American food is flat to the taste, indifferent in the subtle difference of taste. There is no such thing there as a little “secret ingredient.” Sugar, salt, pepper, oils, and routine spices are used for family meals. There is no such thing as purely U.S. cuisine, except the hamburger, which isn’t made at home so much. There is almost nothing special to eat based on the different seasons of the year. Basically, they like sweet, high fat, high calories things.

2. Beware Rough Areas Where the Clothes Demand Attention

In Japan, hip hop clothes are considered stylish. But in the United States, it is wise to avoid them, as you might be mistaken for a member of a street gang.

The entire United States does not have good security, unfortunately. However, the difference between a place with good regional security and a “rough area” is clear. People walk less, there is a lot of graffiti, windows and doors are strictly fitted with bars. And young people are dressed in hip hop clothes that say “I want you to pay attention to me!”

3. But You’ll be Pleasantly Surprised by American Traffic Patterns.

Manners with cars in America are really damn good. Japanese people should be embarrassed when they look at how good car manners are in America. You must wait whenever you cross an intersection for the traffic light. People don’t get pushy to go first. Except for some people, everyone keeps exactly to the speed limit. America is a car society, but their damn good manners are not limited to cars.

4. Nobody is impressed by how much you can drink. In fact, shame on you.

In the U.S., they do not have a sense of superiority if they are able to drink a large amount. Rather, if you drink a lot, there is a sense that you cannot manage yourself. There is something close to contempt toward someone who must drink a lot to be drunk. To drink alcohol habitually is to have alcoholism. Alcoholics are weak people mentally, to be one means you have spanned the label of social outcasts that can’t self-manage.

Non-smokers are more important than smokers in the US. Smokers capture the concept that they are not able to control themselves, and are the owners of weak character.

5. They Have Free Time All Week Long!

In America, whether you are a student, working person, or housewife, you carefully make room for leisure time, weekdays and weekends. Most people are ensured free time, always. During the week they use it for walking, jogging, bicycling, tennis, racquetball, bowling, watching movies, reading, and volunteering. On the weekend, they enjoy even more freedom, and take liberal arts courses and have sporting leisures.

In Japan we believe that there is no free time during the weekday. Only the weekend. We spend the weekend watching TV, hanging around home, working, studying, and shopping, or listening to music.

6. Knowing how to use sarcasm is a must to communicate with an American.

If you put your bent middle and index fingers of both hands in the air, you are making finger quotation marks. It means you do not believe what you are saying. You can also say, “or so called.”

7. They tend to horse laugh, even the women. It’s how they show they’re honest.

In Japan, when a woman laughs, she places her hand so it does not show her mouth. It is disgraceful to laugh by loudly opening the mouth. Adult males do not laugh much. There is the saying, “Man, do not laugh so much that you show your teeth.”

In America, when men or women laugh, they do not turn away. They face front, open the mouth, and laugh in a loud voice. This is because in America if you muffle your laugh or turn away while laughing, you give the impression that you are talking about a secret or name-calling. It is nasty.

8. You won’t be getting your groceries anytime soon, so checkout lines are a great place to make friends.

Cashiers are slow. Abysmally slow compared to Japan. I get frustrated when I’m in a hurry. Americans wait leisurely even if you’re in the special checkout for buying just a little something. I thought Americans were going to be quite impatient, but in reality they are extremely laid back. I thought about what I should do with my time while waiting in the grocery matrix, and began to speak at length with other guests.

9. Their vending machines are ridiculously limited and dishonest.

Vending machines in the United States just give carbonated beverages. Coke particularly. If you try to buy the juice from a vending machine when you’re thirsty, it’s just all carbonate. I pressed the button and thought it would be a nice orange juice, but carbonate came out. I love carbonated, but there are times when it will make you sick indeed.

10. But darn it all, they’re so weirdly optimistic you just can’t stay irritated at them.

In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.

In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, American’s have curiosity and say, “Let’s try anyway!”

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