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Kawagoe Festival

19 Oct

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):

Metal Festivals in Tokyo

26 May

Every October for the past ten years, there is a two-day heavy metal music festival in the Tokyo area called “Loudpark“.

This year it is scheduled for 2015 October 10th (Sat) and October 11th (Sun).

Loudpark heavy metal festival; 2015 Oct 10-11

Loudpark heavy metal festival; 2015 Oct 10-11.

Some of the major bands that are billed to play are: Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Three of the “Big Four“!

And then the following month, there will be another big heavy metal festival in the Tokyo area!
OzzFest Japan is scheduled for 2015 November 21st (Sat) and November 22nd!

OzzFest Japan 2015 will be held on 2015 Nov 21st - 22nd.

OzzFest Japan 2015 will be held on 2015 Nov 21st – 22nd.

Unlike Loudpark, OzzFest doesn’t have a long history in Japan. This will only be the second OzzFest in this country so far.

The first OzzFest Japan ever was held in May of 2013. I went to it with a friend of mine.
(Click here to read my post about it.)

I saw Black Sabbath, among other bands, at OzzFest Japan 2013…and they were initially billed to headline OzzFest Japan 2015, but it’s been changed for whatever reason…Ozzy will still be playing with his solo band instead.

The main acts of OzzFest Japan 2015 will be: Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, KoRn Bullet For My Valentine, and Evanscence.

Storm on Grandparents Day

16 Sep

It’s a three-day-weekend in Japan.
Today is 敬老の日 (Respect For Elders Day).

Even though today is a holiday, we’re staying indoors … and if you’re in the Tokyo area, you should too!

Because a big typhoon is currently hitting eastern Japan!

Trains have stopped, bridges are closed, houses and cars have been torn up, some parts of Kanagawa had a black-out, Kyoto and the city of 小浜 (Obama) have been flooded.

(Speaking of the Japanese city with the same name as the U.S. president, I wrote a post here:
https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/obama/ )

Plastic Food

1 Sep

Many restaurants in Japan have plastic displays of the menu items outside.

image

Animetal USA

9 Oct

Have you ever heard of the Japanese heavy metal band “Animetal“?

The Japanese band "Animetal".

They were an extra band made just for fun by members of other established Japanese metal bands. Animetal played heavy metal versions of Japanese anime theme songs.

The artwork of the cover of Animetal's first album (released in the mid-90's).

Animetal disbanded about five years ago…but this year, Marty Friedman (who was the lead guitarist of the American heavy metal band Megadeth but quit that famous band so that he could live in Tokyo with his Japanese wife) helped organize the formation of “Animetal USA“.

"Animetal USA"

Animetal USA consists of Mike Vescera (formally the lead vocalist of the Japanese band “Loudness” for a short time), Chris Impellitteri (of the band “Impellitteri”), Rudy Sarzo (from “Quiet Riot”) and Scott Travis (of “Judas Priest”).

Just like the original “Animetal”, this band sings heavy metal versions of Japanese anime theme songs…but, unlike the Japanese band, only some of their songs are in Japanese—the rest are in English.

They will be releasing their debut album on 2011 October 12 and on October 15, they will perform at this year’s Loudpark Heavy Metal Festival in Saitama, Japan.

The cover artwork for Animetal USA's debut album...due for release on 2011/10/12.

Here is the official video for “Animetal USA“‘s first single…the theme song of the anime 「宇宙戦艦ヤマト」 (“Space Battleship Yamato“):

The zoo is free today

4 May

In Japan, April 29th, May 3rd, May 4th and May 5th are public holidays.  Collectively they are known as 「(ゴールデンウィーク」 (“Golden Week“).  Technically only those days are public holidays and therefore only the May 3-5 period is “Golden Week”, but many companies allow their employees to have a Golden Week holiday from 「昭和の日」 (“Showa Day”) on April 29th until 「子供の日」 (“Children’s Day”) on May 5th.

(Click here to read my FAQ that explains a bit about the Golden Week holidays.)

Today is May 4th…「みどりの日」 (“Greenery Day“) in Japan.

This is the day to appreciate nature.  Every year May 4th is one of three days that all of the public 動物園 (zoos) and 水族館 (aquariums) are open with no admission charge.

So you can go to the zoo or aquarium in Tokyo for free today…if you don’t mind the crowd.

Of the three days that Japan’s zoos are open for free, May 4th is the most crowded because it’s the day that is a national holiday.
Tokyo’s 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) will be particularly crowded because in addition to the zoo being open for free on a national holiday today…Ueno Zoo recently got new pandas.

The three days of the year that Japan’s public zoos and aquariums are open for free are May 4th (“Greenery Day”), 都/道/府/県民の日 (Prefecture Residents’ Day) (each prefecture’s “Residents Day” is a separate day), and the anniversary of the day that the zoo / aquarium first opened.

So, for Tokyo’s public zoos, the days that they’re open for free are as follows:
May 4th 「みどりの日」 (Greenery Day)…which is today.
October 1st 「都民の日」 (Tokyo Residents’ Day)…as for the Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures, 千葉県民の日 (Chiba Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on June 15th, 埼玉県民の日 (Saitama Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on November 14th, and 神奈川県民の日 (Kanagawa Prefecture Residents’ Day) is on March 19th—so Chiba Zoo, Tobu Zoo, Yokohama Zoo, etc. will be open for free on their respective prefecture’s Residents Day.
-And the other free day is the anniversary of the zoo’s grand opening…so, for each of Tokyo’s public zoos and aquariums, that day is:

Ueno Zoo...open for free every March 20th (first opened on 1882 March 20).

Tama Zoo is open for free on both (May 4) today and (May 5) tomorrow (both are national holidays). Tama Zoo first opened on 1958 May 5th.

Kasai Seaside Aquarium...open for free every October 10th (first opened on 1989 October 10).

Inokashira Zoo...open for free every May 17th (first opened on 1918 May 17).

Ooshima Zoo is always opened to the public for free.

Do you like zoos and aquariums? Which is your favorite zoo? Have you seen any of Japan’s zoo?

If you want any information about these zoos and aquariums in Tokyo (or the ones in the neighboring prefectures), feel free to ask in this post’s comments or e-mail me…I’ve been to them all.

(Images in this post are from the Tokyo Zoological Park Society website).

Maid Train

8 Nov

Have you ever heard of Tokyo’s “Maid Cafes“?
These cafes, mostly located in the Otaku (geek) paradise of the 秋葉原 (Akihabara) section of Tokyo, are staffed by young women dressed in “French maid” outfits who greet the customers by saying 「お帰りなさいませご主人様」 (“Welcome home, master”).
They also draw cute pictures on the food with ketchup and play games with the customers.

Some people say that Japan’s bar-hostesses and cafe maids are both a kind of modern-day geisha.
Maybe it’s an “only-in Japan phenomenon”, but hostesses, cafe maids, and geisha all have in common that their purpose is to entertain customers (usually male) in certain eating and drinking establishments…but, contrary to a popular belief in Western countries, they have nothing to do with prostitution.

Well, the financially struggling Seibu Train Line that connects 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture) to 東京都 (Tokyo) has decided to try and take advantage of the popularity of maid cafes to attract more passengers to use their trains.

Beginning 2010 December 11, they will have a limited number of  「メイド・トレイン」 (“Maid Trains“).

These trains will be staffed by “maids” similar to the ones in maid cafes who will serve food and drinks and they will also make all of the train’s announcements.
Passengers will also have a chance to pay to have their photo taken with the maids (the same service is available at maid cafes).

Personally I have never been to a maid cafe. And I have no plans to ride the “maid train” either.
How about you? Have you ever visited one of Japan’s maid cafes? Or would you like to?
Would you ride the maid train?