Tag Archives: 日本

Japan will bring bullet train to Florida?

23 Nov

Japan is well-known for it’s excellent public transportation system. Especially in big cities like Tokyo.
Japan’s trains, buses and subways are clean, safe, extremely punctual, convenient and affordable.

Even though the taxis here aren’t really affordable (a taxi ride in Japan is pricey), they’re also clean, safe and convenient.

You may also know that Japan has an excellent 「新幹線」 (“Bullet train” (or “Shinkansen” in Japanese)) system.

"Shinkansen" (Bullet train) passing Mt. Fuji.

Japan’s 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system is the world’s busiest and fastest bullet-train service.
The speed record was set a few years ago when the 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) reached a speed of over 580 km/hr on a test-run. With passengers though, the trains travel up to about 300 km/hr.

When U.S. President Obama announced that America would begin building and using bullet-trains systems in various parts of America with the first one scheduled to connect Tampa, Florida (my hometown) to Orlando and Miami, Florida many bullet-train companies around the world began bidding for the contract to build Florida’s first high-speed train service.

Map of Florida showing the planned bullet-train routes.

Companies in Canada, Germany and France are competing with Japan for the contract.

But it seems that Japan’s JR Tokai company has a good chance of winning the bid.

If Japan wins the bid then Florida will have a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system like Japan’s.

 

One of JR Tokai's 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) trains.

I wonder if America will be able to maintain the punctuality, safety and convenience of Japan’s train systems.

Have you ever ridden a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) in Japan? Or any of Japan’s trains or subways?
Have you taken public transportation in other countries?
What are your impressions?

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By the way, today is a national holiday in Japan…「勤労感謝の日」 (“Labor Day”). (Click here to read my short “F.A.Q.” about it.)

New Alpaca at Ueno Zoo

2 Jan

Do you know what an アルパカ (alpaca) is?

It’s a South American animal that looks alot like a llama.

They also look kinda similar to that giant flying doglike character in the ’80s movie “The Never Ending Story“.

From the movie "The Never Ending Story".

 

Earlier this year, 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo got a brown female アルパカ (alpaca) named 「モコ」 (“Moko“).

「モコちゃん」 (“Moko“) was alone, so a few weeks ago 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) got another female アルパカ (alpaca) to live in the same pen as 「モコ」 (“Moko“).

This new アルパカ (alpaca) is white.

Photo: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society

 

The zoo asked the public to vote on a name for this new アルパカ (alpaca).

The results of the vote were:

「灯」 (“Akari“) got 216 votes,

「ポコ」 (“Poko“) got 198 votes,

「フゥ」 (“Fuu“) got 129 votes, and

「ユラ」 (“Yura“) got 112votes.

So 「モコ」 (Moko)’s new roommate is 「灯」 (Akari)…it means “light” (as opposed to “dark”).

「モコ」 (Moko), brown and 「灯」 (Akari), white(Photos: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society)

Photos: © Tokyo Zoological Park Society

 

アルパカ (alpaca) are kinda cute, don’t you think?

If you want to see them, you can visit them at 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo.

Tokyo’s voted one of the best…again

24 Oct

It seems that the world’s cities are constantly being rated.
And Tokyo, Japan has often been ranked #1 (for example, Tokyo has been voted the city with the world’s best cuisine many times)…and at least Tokyo usually makes the ranking’s “Top Five”.

A recent survey asked five groups of people to rate the world’s cities.
The groups were “Business managers”, “Scientists and researchers”, “Artists”, “Tourists”, and “Residents of the cities”.
Then the five lists were averaged into a final ranking of the “World’s Best Cities”.

The “Business managers” Top Ten cities are:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Singapore
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Shanghai
  6. Paris
  7. Tokyo
  8. Beijing
  9. Zurich
  10. Geneva

The “Scientists” Top Ten are:

  1. New York
  2. London
  3. Tokyo
  4. Paris
  5. Seoul
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Boston
  8. Singapore
  9. Berlin
  10. Chicago

The “Artists” list:

  1. New York
  2. Paris
  3. Berlin
  4. London
  5. Tokyo
  6. Chicago
  7. Vienna
  8. Los Angeles
  9. Amsterdam
  10. Madrid

Tourists” voted like this:

  1. New York
  2. London
  3. Paris
  4. Beijing
  5. Shanghai
  6. Vienna
  7. Tokyo
  8. Berlin
  9. Singapore
  10. Hong Kong

And finally “Residents’” Top-Ten:

  1. New York
  2. Paris
  3. Berlin
  4. Tokyo
  5. London
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Zurich
  8. Vienna
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Vancouver

When the lists were averaged Tokyo was fourth place in the Global City Rankings.

Blue roses and strong beer

22 Oct

Suntory, the Japanese beverage company, has announced that they have developed the world’s first 青いバラ (blue roses).

bara-site

These flowers will begin going on sale in parts of Japan on November 3 for about ¥3000 (US $32.50) per flower.

I’m not really so interested in a special flower…even a “world’s first”.

What does sound appealing to me is Suntory‘s new beer.
The 「ショッキ生エイト」 (“Jyokki-nama Eight“) with 8% alcohol!

nama8

Sister cities

27 Sep

Many cities in the world have a 姉妹都市 (“sister city“) partnership with a city in another country. Some cities have more than one “sister city”.

Tokyo, for example, has eleven sister cities.
– 中国北京市 (Beijing, China)
– Berlin, Germany
– Cairo, Egypt
– Jakarta, Indonesia
– Moscow, Russia
– New South Wales, Australia
– New York City, America
– Paris, France
– Rome, Italy
– Sao Paulo, Brazil, and
– Seoul, Korea
are Tokyo’s sister cities.

Cities make “sister city” contracts with other cities in the world to help promote each other’s culture, industry and tourism.

I just found out that the city I grew up in…Clearwater, Florida, USA is a sister city with 日本国長野市 (Nagano, Japan).

And that this year (2009) is the 50th year that Clearwater, Florida and Nagano, Japan have been sister cities.
To celebrate, both Nagano and Clearwater are doing more than usual to promote each other’s culture.

I also found out that every year, a small group of American students and teachers spend two weeks of the summer in Nagano, Japan…and a similar small Japanese group from Nagano visit Clearwater, Florida.
I wish I knew about that when I was a teenager in Florida! I might have applied for the program!

I remember, though, when I was in elementary school, a group of teachers from Japan visited my school in Florida. I guess they were from Nagano. I remember that they seemed very interested in my school lunch and what I thought of it (I know now that it’s because American school lunches are so very different from Japanese ones!).

What city do you live in? What’s your town’s “sister city”? Have you ever visited the sister city?

I have been to Nagano once. In 1998, to see the ’98 Olympics that were hosted by Nagano, Japan.
And I’ve only been back to visit Clearwater, Florida once since I moved to Tokyo in 1990 (in 2004, my family and I visited Florida for a couple weeks in the summer).

As for Tokyo’s sister cities, years ago, I visited Seoul, Korea and New York City once each.

Tom Cruise was Japanese, U.S. may get Japanese phones, and a feline station-master…

5 Sep

Have you heard about any of these news stories in Japan?

◎ The wife of the Japanese Prime-Minister-elect, Miyuki Hatoyama, seems to be a bit eccentric.
She has been quoted as saying that she was abducted by aliens and taken into their triangular UFO for a trip to the planet Venus…which she described as rich with green foliage!
She also said that she and her husband eat some of the sun every morning for energy!
And that she met the famous American actor Tom Cruise in another life when he was Japanese!

DoCoMo, the most prominent cellular-phone provider in Japan (and the one that my family uses), plans to begin selling their cell-phones in America. As well as offering many of the services that they provide in Japan, such as their “I-mode” internet service. It’s not clear yet if they plan to offer their cell-phone wallet service which is extremely popular in Japan to pay for everything from vending machines to groceries to fast-food to train fares.

The key-pad of a Japanese "DoCoMo" cell-phone.

The key-pad of a Japanese "DoCoMo" cell-phone.

◎ A small train line in a small town near Osaka, Japan was in danger of closing down until the media in Japan reported that a cat that had been hanging around the area was “hired” as the new 駅長 (station master).
The cat’s name is 「たま」 (Tama) and she gets paid with cat-food by the train line.
I remember when this story was on TV here about two years ago.
It’s seems that the tactic worked…people are coming from all over Japan to ride the train and see 「たま」 (Tama), the 駅長 (station master).
All the new customers are good for business and have kept the train line from closing down…but it created a new problem—where to put the cars from all the customers that drive to the station from around Japan.
The train station that the cat works at, 喜志駅 (Kishi Station), doesn’t have any car parking spaces near it.

Tama the feline station-master

Tama the feline station-master

On the TV

31 Aug

At the moment, all that is on the TV in Japan is either the 台風 (typhoon) that is hitting the Tokyo area today, and the national election results.

Tokyo is in the path of the approaching typhoon.

Tokyo is in the path of the approaching typhoon.

Be careful if you’re on the east coast of Japan and you have to go out today.
The weather will be bad all day today, but it’s forecast to be nice tomorrow (normally, after a typhoon passes the sky is very clear).

Regarding Japan’s election today, the results are still not all in yet, but it’s winding down and the 民主党 (Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)) is winning in a landslide.
This is an upset victory because the 自由民主党 (Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)) has won nearly every national election in Japan since the end of WWII. The current Japanese Prime Minister (Taro Asou) is the president of the LDP.

The next Prime Minister of Japan will more than likely be 鳩山由紀夫 (Yukio Hatoyama).

鳩山由紀夫 (Yuki Hatoyama)

鳩山由紀夫 (Yuki Hatoyama)