Tag Archives: subway

Japan brought back the steam locomotive

22 Jun

Have you ever visited Japan? Even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard about Japan’s excellent, clean, safe, affordable, extremely punctual and high-tech public transportation system.

Especially in big cities such as Tokyo, there are train and subway stations and bus stops all over the city.

The trains, subways, and buses are on time to the minute. They’re very comfortable…upholstered seats, air-conditioning in the summer and heated in the winter.

The fare can be paid with the swipe of a convenient IC-card.

And, of course, the trains and subways are electric. It’s been that way for decades. Japan hasn’t used the steam locomotive (SL) for a long time.

But, for something fun to do this summer (especially for families with young boys) and also to show support to Fukushima, Japan Railways (JR) will offer the chance to ride on a steam locomotive train.

This is only temporary (for the summer of 2011) and also the trains will only run in the countryside area of 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), north of Tokyo.

Have you ever ridden on a steam locomotive? If you’re able to visit Gunma, Japan this summer, this is your chance.

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Western Stores in Tokyo

14 Feb

Many overseas companies want to open shops in Japan.
The Japanese market is very lucrative…for companies that prove to be popular here. But the Japanese consumer is very finicky. Companies that don’t meet Japanese expectations are doomed to fail.

For example, the American donut company, Dunkin’ Donuts, is popular in America. But when they opened stores in Japan, the Japanese people found their donuts too sweet…and Dunkin’ Donuts was  unable to stay in Japan.

dunkin-donuts1

On the other hand, the less-sweet American donut chain Mister Donuts is very popular in Japan. (Ironically, Mister Donuts isn’t very popular in America).

misdo

"Mister Donut" in Tokyo

Krispy Kreme Donuts set up shops in Tokyo recently, too.

krispy

Some American chains have been bought by a Japanese company and were brought here by their new Japanese owners. For example, the convenience store chain 7-Eleven was bought by the Japanese department store Ito-Yokado. (A couple years ago Ito-Yokado changed the signs on their department stores to reflect their connection with the popular convenience store they own…their signs now say “Seven & i Holdings” on the Ito-Yokado stores.)

7-Eleven (and other convenience stores) are very popular in Japan. Japan is a small country, but there are almost twice as many 7-Eleven stores here than in all of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined!

Convenience stores in Japan are very different from their counterparts in America. Japanese convenience stores are great!

7-11

7 & i Holdings, the Japanese company that owns 7-Eleven also owns the restaurant chain Denny’s. Denny’s in Japan have a different menu than Denny’s in America. I like Denny’s Japan better (but that may be because I’ve been in Japan for awhile now, and I’m more used to Japanese style food).

デニーズ・レストラン「セブン&アイ HLDGS」 (Denny's Restaurant (Seven & i Holdings)

デニーズ・レストラン「セブン&アイ HLDGS」 (Denny

The American bakery Vie de France is in Japan, too. But it’s not American anymore either…Yamazaki Bread owns this company. I like Vie de France. Their bread is excellent.

vie-de-france

Of course, American fast-food chains are here…

mac

ケンタッ�ー (KFC) in Japan.

ケンタッキー (KFC) in Japan.

wendys

pizza-hut

shakeys2

dominos

I have wrote a post about Domino’s Pizza in Japan. Click here to see it.

I like Subway sandwich shop, alot. The Japanese Subway sandwich shop. The menu is much better at Subway Japan than the U.S. branches.

subway

There are Japanese fast-food restaurants, too.  These include MOS Burger, First Kitchen, and Freshness Burger (which has beer on the menu! 🙂 ). Occasionally you can still find a  Dom-Dom Burger, and there used to be a chain called Love Hamburger. Love Hamburger went out-of -business about 12 years ago and the U.S. chain Burger King bought all of the Love Burger shops and opened Burger King in Japan in the late ’90s…but they made the ill-fated decision to offer only a limited menu to test the Japanese market. That didn’t go over well and soon they went out-of-business in Japan, too.

But recently, Burger King decided to re-try the Japanese market…and I guess they learned from their past mistakes—they seem to be doing well in Japan now.

burger-king

There are also branches of Sizzler, Outback, and Tony Romas in Japan.

sizzleroutback

romas

All of these foreign companies that have stores in Tokyo (How many of these have stores in your town? Do you shop at any of these?):

bubba

tgif

red_lobster

el-torito

hrc

"Shell" Gas
"Mobil" Gas harley-japan1

citibank

starbucks "HMV" CD / DVD store "Tower Records" in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo)
"Disney Store", Tokyo gap hilton

prada

chanel

vuitton

"The Body Shop" in Tokyo

"The Body Shop" in Tokyo

"Godiva Chocolate" in Tokyo

"Godiva Chocolate" in Tokyo

claires2

Toys "Я" Us

Toys "Я" Us

There are other foreign companies here, too…but you get the idea.

All of these foreign companies have to keep on their toes and provide the service and products that the Japanese expect…and for each of these foreign stores in Japan, there are Japanese companies that provide similar products that they have to compete with.  But if the effort is worth it…Japan is the most profitable market for most of these companies.

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Anyways, today is Valentine’s Day.
My wife and daughters made delicious chocolate for me.
(Click here to read a post I wrote about Valentines Day in Japan).

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マナー

25 Nov

Japanese are famous for their マナー (manners).
Even big cities in Japan like Tokyo and Osaka have less crime and more general politeness than other large metropolises in the world.

There is crime and there rude people in Japan…but considerably less than in cities overseas.

The high level of politeness in Japan means that the bad manners that most commonly encounter here are things like smoking or eating while walking, putting make-up on while riding the train, music turned up too loud on a Walkman®, not giving up a seat on a train or bus to the elderly, and using cell-phones near the silver seats on the train (where they’re supposed to be turned off).

So, fairly recently, both the Tokyo Metro Subway company and Japan Tobacco (JT) each started a series of good manners posters. (Japan Tobacco‘s posters were originally only aimed at smokers to reiterate good smoking manners…but have grown to include general good manners).

Both the subway and JT‘s posters are written in 日本語 (Japanese) and English. So I like to read them, not so much for their intentionally humorous writing style…but to study the 日本語 (Japanese).

Here are a few of JT‘s posters:

bump

portable

unconcern

The Tokyo Metro‘s posters have a 「〇〇でやろう。」 (“Please do it at…”) theme, with a clearer explanation at the bottom. For example, one shows a man diving through the subway car’s closing doors and it says 「海でやろう。」 (“Please do it at the beach.”).

umi

ie

There are older manner posters, too. That don’t have any English written on them.

The ones above are the newer ones…but you can still see the original manner posters in Tokyo sometimes.

Here are a couple of the older subway manner posters.

They both basically ask commuters not to bother other commuters with loud music from headphones, sitting improperly (taking up too much space), applying make-up or eating and drinking, or putting their belongings on the seat next to them:

manner1

manner2

Tokyo Sky Tree

12 Jun

東京タワー (Tokyo Tower), built in 1958, is 333 meters tall. Taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France that it was modeled after.

At the time, it dominated the Tokyo skyline. And was used as a transmission tower for Tokyo’s radio and TV stations…as well as, a popular tourist attraction.

The tower’s fifty years old this year and it’s still used as a transmission tower today (and a tourist draw, as well)…but Tokyo now has many buildings that dwarf the Tokyo Tower…and obstruct the radio and TV waves.

So, the government decided to build a taller transmission / observation tower, to be completed by December 2011 and stand at nearly 634 meters tall (2080 feet).

It will be built at 隅田川 (Sumida River), near 浅草 (Asakusa). And it will be the world’s tallest tower.

This is what it’s expected to look like:

I think it’s an awesome sight. But I really like huge towers, skyscrapers and bridges!

The only thing I don’t like about it is it’s name…

Before a final name was decided upon, it was temporarily referred to as 新東京タワー (New Tokyo Tower). That was bad enough…but the official name for the new tower is: 東京スカイツリー (Tokyo Sky Tree)!

What an unfortunate name.

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Did you know that Japan’s Sumo Wrestlers went to America?

For the first time in 27 years, the top-ranking Sumo Wrestlers held matches in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

It was reported in the Japanese news that it was very popular with the American public.

Is 相撲 (Sumo) catching on in America?

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On Saturday, a new subway line will start running in Tokyo.

The 副都心線 (Fukutoshin Line) will connect Ikebukuro to Shibuya and eventually expand to go from Saitama to Yokohama.

The name of the line translates to something like “Nearly downtown”. That’s my own translation…not an official title. 副都心線 (Fukutoshin Line) is just a name of a train line, not a normal everyday expression—so it’s hard to translate.