Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Learn Kanji

Check out Jim Breen`s site which is free and hopes to
help you master this very difficult alphabet/

Jim Breen`s Learn Kanji Site

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Odawara`s Annual Hojo Godai Matsuri

Annual Festival in Odawara, May 3

Monday, October 6, 2008

Learn Japanese Easily - All It Took Was A Movie...

Pictured: Kanazawa courtesy of Fuji Film Staff

by: Suzanne and Paul Brown

My quest to learn how to speak Japanese began with the Anime movies, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, by the renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. These amazing movies were the catalyst that propelled my interest in the Japanese culture and hence, my desire to learn Japanese fast but in the most proficient way possible.

I was determined to learn a language that most of my fellow North Americans either have no interest in or find it too challenging. Why? Japanese not only sounds significantly different from English but the Japanese letters, (Hiragana) that represent the sounds that make up the Japanese language and is central to the Japanese writing system, are very different. Because of this, I was even hesitant to learn basic Japanese but I put my fears aside and proceeded to find the best way to learn Japanese. After weeks of researching the Internet and networking by word of mouth, I found an amazing course that teaches you to speak Japanese online. So, here's a brief overview of this course to help you in your goal to learn Japanese easily.

First, there is a 31-lesson Interactive Audio Course that covers everything that you need to know to learn Japanese quickly and to become part of a Japanese community. Second, their software: the vocabulary software is a word building game designed to help you learn about 1000 Japanese words and to cover 20 different topics. You can also use this game indefinitely because it allows you to add your own images. The audio software will help you overcome the most difficult aspect of learning Japanese and that is the comprehension. The Hiragana Software learning game helps you to easily recognize and memorize the Hiragana character set used in the Japanese writing and pronunciation system. Third, there are the Grammar Newsletter Series that provides you with 31 illustrated Grammar Lessons and examples. These are invaluable cultural informational tools with explanations of written Japanese and of popular Japanese grammar. The visual tools of this series are unique to this product and their value is priceless enabling you to learn Japanese easily.

Finally, there is also access to a Learner's Forum and Support system that is staffed with fellow students, natives and Japanese teachers. This provides you with extra free resources to further assist you on your quest to learn to speak fluent Japanese.

I am pleased to say that I am able to watch Miyazaki’s movies in their original Japanese and I look forward to visiting Japan one day. Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki for opening up the door for me to experience, acknowledge and respect the Japanese culture.

About The Author
Suzanne and Paul Brown

We are passionate about languages and life-long learning. To find out more information on Japanese you can visit, or

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yamato Cup Street Hockey Tournament

The Tokyo Street Hockey Association (, will be hosting a pan-Asian (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc.) one day ball hockey tournament called the Yamato Cup ( in Tokyo on October 11, 2008 at the Amazing Square arena in Kita Senju.

We would love it if you and your crew could put a team in the tournament, enjoy some fun ball hockey like we did when we were kids, get a chance at winning the Golden Godzilla, and party with other Canadians from around Asia after the competition is done.

The tournament fees are 7000 yen per player including a one day ball hockey tournament, a 2hr all you can drink awards party on the evening of the tournament, 1st and 2nd place awards as well as a bunch of individual awards for top scorer, MVP, best goalie etc. and water, referee, time keeper, score keeper, etc. Note that any leftover funds will be donated to Second Harvest Tokyo (

If you are interested please reply to this email or, go direct to our site and download the registration form for your team (

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Radio Controlled Plane Shops in Kanto

Some explanations contributed at various forums about where some
RC Plane shops are located in Akihabara, Tokyo:

One is very close to Iwamotocho. I can explain to you how to get there: When you get to the station, just get out using the lift (because I don't know the right exit number...). When you get out and face the street, just turn left and walk straight up. The shop should be on your left within 3 blocks maximum (it will probably be closer).

Here is a map to the shop in Akihabara:,139.773801&z=18&t=m

As you can see is almost next door to Iwamotocho, exit A2

If you go out
of Akihabara station and head across the main street and follow the overhead
Sobu sen tracks you will get to one major road. At that road, you take
a right and walk towards Okachimachi... it's down that way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Games Convention near Odawara,Kanagawa

The picture of our home was taken in April would you believe!

Everyone welcome!
Saturday and Sunday October 25th and 26th, 2008
Starts: 1:30PM on Saturday
Where: Kevin`s House
Address: Iizawa 242-23 Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa

What to bring?
Your shoes, games, beer to bribe Kevin (optional)
We have the house to ourselves for most of the day so we can
get a lot of game playing in and say four letter words eh! I love
4 letter words like: four, dice, damn!

There are a few beds available on a first come first served basis.
Email me if you want a bed. If not bring something to sleep on--sleeping
bag etc. We have a lot of room. We have a Canadian,
Victorian style home imported from Cloverdale,BC.

How to Get There from:

Tokyo, Fujisawa, Atsugi, Machida, Yokohama or Sakhalin:
Take the Odakyu Line to Odawara and be sure to get into one of the
first four train cars as the train splits. Take a Kyuko (express
train) it has red kanji on the side usually next to the door up top.
It takes about 90 minutes. Bring a good book!

Get off at Odawara Station and transfer to the Daiyuzan Line. Get off
at Daiyuzan Station, it takes 21 minutes from Odawara. Take the only
exit, walk straight out to the main street out in front and head left
down that street through the traffic lights (under the covered
pedestrian overpass). Over the bridge and you will see our green
roofed house with "Kevin`s English School" signs plastered all over
the place.

How to Get There:

From Shizuoka, Nagoya and other points South: Take the
Tokaido line or the Shinkansen and get off at Odawara. Transfer to
the Daiyuzan line and follow the directions above (for Tokyo).

**The Shinkansen also stops at Odawara. You take a Kodama Super
Express. It takes about 39 minutes from Tokyo. Costs a little over
3,000 Yen one way.

Take a break from the city and see some mountain views and breathe some fresh air.

Feel free to pass this on to interested people. Games of all kinds
welcome. Bring whatever you would like to play, chances are, others
will want to play it too. We have three guest beds and some futons.
Bring a sleeping bag if you`d like. It is a nice area as well.
A great break from wherever you live with a great bunch of people!

Kevin Burns

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Age Japan

Our site is dedicated to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge--basicly the quest to become a better person, be it through Buddhism, Christianity, Yoga, Meditation or some other way. Tell us how you are becoming more spiritual and contributing to the betterment of the world.

As well this site is dedicated to articles about New Age beliefs and phenomena. With links and information about New Age
resources and services in Japan and the world. Check out our
links section here and be sure to read the articles at our homepage, link below. Love and Light!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gaming Day in Fujisawa, Kanagawa

Hi everyone !

Gaming day at my place in Fujisawa this Sunday !

The day will be starting at 10:00 am, directions and my list of games
follow (this is - as usual - a copy/paste from previous events)

It's been a long time since I had one of those. Please come and have fun !

Cheers !


I live in Fujisawa, but the station is actually Hon Kugenuma on the
Odakyu Enoshima Line. From Tokyo or Odawara, the JR Tokaido line or
Shonan-Shinjuku line are the fastest, then get off at Fujisawa
station, and take the Odakyu. People living in or near the Odakyu line
from Shinjuku might want to take it to Sagami Ono and change there for
the Enoshima line.

At Hon-Kugenuma, take the East exit (it's on the same side as the
train when you arrive from Fujisawa) and turn left at the exit. The
road is basically straight ahead, past a supermarket to your right,
then a gardening shop, and a meat shop to your left. There will be a
crossing with a blinking light, cross it, my house is 100 metres
further, on the right side. It's a white house with a parking, my door
is on the right.,139.479493&spn=0.003834,0.010042&z=\
(My house is located at the exact centre of this map)

If you need to reach me : 080 6626 5822, the IRL name is Guillaume.

Games I have :

- Puerto Rico
- Settlers of Catan
- Valley of the Mammoths
- Guillotine
- Fire in the sky
- War of the ring
- Succession wars
- Pax Britannica
- It still have Kevin's Republic of Rome, amazing game - but long

And feel free to bring whatever game you would like to.

See you all this Sunday !

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Mystifying and Powerful World of Japanese Fashion

Pictured: Himeji Castle, courtesy of Fuji Film

by: Korbin Newlyn

Many would say that fashion is an expression of the culture and soul, hence every nation has a unique reflection of its own history as well as traditions in one way or another.

Japanese fashion is no exception to this sentiment. This article will go into a few details of how it has changed throughout the years while always remaining intact in its traditions.

The Past and the Present

One of the most traditional and common Japanese fashion outfits is the Kimono; it is still worn today in more modern designs, it was also embraced by the Western nations because of its sensuality as well as elegance.

Throughout the years Japanese fashion saw very few changes but throughout the years the Kimono was a dominant part of the classic collection and consistently a part of their lives in one form or another. Another kind of Kimono is the Furisode which is worn by young women in their twenties; in Japan the age to legally drink and smoke is twenty and in order to celebrate the parent frequently offer their daughters a Furisode.

Then the Houmongi takes the stage. This is another kind of Kimono that is worn by married women and similar to the Furisode the parents will give their daughter one when she is married.

The formal Kimono is known as Tomesode and is typically worn by married women to social functions such as marriages. Additional variations include the Mofuku which is the funeral Kimono for Japanese fashion and the Uchikake is the wedding Kimono.

Last but certainly not least the Obi is the oldest form of the Japanese fashion as they are no longer in production today and rarely will you find someone wearing this type even in Japan.

Modern Japanese fashion generally has several categories in addition to some that are not related to clothes. The Japanese fashion known as the Kogal is translated in Japan to people who enjoy displaying their higher income by wearing expensive jewelry or clothes.

The Gangoro Japanese fashion is designed for those people who began changing their hair color and then you have the Lolita as the Gothic Lolita Japanese fashion, which is being represented by the innocent and sweet dressed (Lolita) all the way to the other extreme type referred to as punk fashion, which is known as Gothic Lolitas.

The Eternal Fashion

The world of classic fashion is eternal throughout the world and Japanese fashion has their Kimonos to prove it. The use of colors also plays a large part in the world of Japanese fashion as well as their culture as it is directly correlated to the event. Fashion not only reflects and defines an era and a place in time but also the character and personality of the person who is wearing it.

About The Author
Listen to Korbin Newlyn as he shares his insights as an expert author and an avid writer in the field of fashion. If you would like to learn more go to and at

Learn Japanese Easily - All It Took Was A Movie...

by: Suzanne and Paul Brown

My quest to learn how to speak Japanese began with the Anime movies, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, by the renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. These amazing movies were the catalyst that propelled my interest in the Japanese culture and hence, my desire to learn Japanese fast but in the most proficient way possible.

I was determined to learn a language that most of my fellow North Americans either have no interest in or find it too challenging. Why? Japanese not only sounds significantly different from English but the Japanese letters, (Hiragana) that represent the sounds that make up the Japanese language and is central to the Japanese writing system, are very different. Because of this, I was even hesitant to learn basic Japanese but I put my fears aside and proceeded to find the best way to learn Japanese. After weeks of researching the Internet and networking by word of mouth, I found an amazing course that teaches you to speak Japanese online. So, here's a brief overview of this course to help you in your goal to learn Japanese easily.

First, there is a 31-lesson Interactive Audio Course that covers everything that you need to know to learn Japanese quickly and to become part of a Japanese community. Second, their software: the vocabulary software is a word building game designed to help you learn about 1000 Japanese words and to cover 20 different topics. You can also use this game indefinitely because it allows you to add your own images. The audio software will help you overcome the most difficult aspect of learning Japanese and that is the comprehension. The Hiragana Software learning game helps you to easily recognize and memorize the Hiragana character set used in the Japanese writing and pronunciation system. Third, there are the Grammar Newsletter Series that provides you with 31 illustrated Grammar Lessons and examples. These are invaluable cultural informational tools with explanations of written Japanese and of popular Japanese grammar. The visual tools of this series are unique to this product and their value is priceless enabling you to learn Japanese easily.

Finally, there is also access to a Learner's Forum and Support system that is staffed with fellow students, natives and Japanese teachers. This provides you with extra free resources to further assist you on your quest to learn to speak fluent Japanese.

I am pleased to say that I am able to watch Miyazaki’s movies in their original Japanese and I look forward to visiting Japan one day. Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki for opening up the door for me to experience, acknowledge and respect the Japanese culture.

About The Author
Suzanne and Paul Brown

We are passionate about languages and life-long learning. To find out more information on Japanese you can visit, or

Friday, April 18, 2008

Japanese Film Series to be Shown in Brattle, USA

The Brattle Film Foundation (BFF), the non-profit organization that
programs and operates the Brattle Theatre, is thrilled to announce
their new film series, No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action & 60s
Japan, running from Friday, April 18th through Thursday, April 24th,

The label said it all: "Nikkatsu akushon!" Nikkatsu was a Japanese
film studio that had been around since the silent days and akushon
meant "action," written in the katakana syllabary for foreign words.
During their peak in the late 1950s and 1960s, Nikkatsu Action films
evoked a cinematic world neither foreign nor Japanese. It was a mix
of the two, where Japanese tough guys had the swagger, moves, and
even the long legs of Hollywood movie heroes. It was a place where
the Tokyo streets, Yokohama docks, and Hokkaido hills took on an
exciting, exotic aura, as though they were stand-ins for Manhattan,
Marseilles, or even the American West. Where one guy with guts,
smarts, and a pair of quick fists could beat a whole gang of baddies.
One of the most famous progeny of the Nikkatsu Action moment is the
idiosyncratic and colorful director Seijun Suzuki whose bizarre
yakuza tales Branded To Kill and Tokyo Drifter have made him a cult
hero in the US.

In a celebration of these rare and overlooked gems of international B-
movie-making, curators Outcast Cinema have put together a series that
runs the gamut from strange, New Wave-ish youth films to yakuza
epics, and even includes a real Eastern-Western! Eschewing the more
well known Suzuki, Outcast has assembled an exemplary and exciting
batch of films from some of the most outrageous directors and stars
that you've never heard of!

As a complement to the special prints from Nikkatsu, the Brattle is
presenting a brief selection of other films being produced in Japan
in the 1960s… because what would a Japanese action series be without
a Tokyo-terrorizing monster and a samurai or two? Or three?

The lineup features five of the best and most bizarre movies from the
infamous Nikkatsu studio, none of which are available on video in the

A COLT IS MY PASSPORT (1967) A noir-ish thriller, where a hit man and
his buddy whack a prominent gang boss. Deadly complications ensue!

PLAINS WANDERER (1960) Akira Kobayashi plays a traveler on Japan's
back roads with most of the accoutrements of a Western hero – from a
horse to fringes, to a guitar and even a trusty bullwhip.

RED HANDKERCHIEF (1964) Kind of like a Japanese C.S.I. episode, a
disgraced former detective revisits a years-old case to resolve his
doubts about not only his own actions, but the true motives of his
former partner.

VELVET HUSTLER (aka LIKE A SHOOTING STAR) (1967) Velvet Hustler stars
Tesuya Watari as Goro, a Tokyo hitman who likes his women like he
likes his cars: fast and dangerous. Lookout!

THE WARPED ONES (1960) A frantic, black-and-white portrait of youth
culture gone wild. Two ex-cons and their prostitute friend go
completely off the deep end in this stylistic and amoral high-point
of 60s cinema.


The series also includes these other Japanese classics:

BLACK ROSE MANSION (1969) A wealthy playboy installs songbird "Black
Rose" in his elegant private men's club to bolster business - but he
gets more than he bargains for… A feverishly perverse, campy and
baroque freak-out.

DEATH BY HANGING (1968) A bleakly black comedy; a criminal is
sentenced to be hanged but mysteriously survives and, as the guards
and officials present soon find out, has lost all memory of his
crime, trial and eventual fate. Not on video!

HIGH AND LOW (1963) Akira Kurosawa, the seminal Japanese director,
takes us from the spacious hillside apartment of a hotshot Tokyo
businessman, to the lower depths of the city in this neo-noir

MOTHRA (1961) Sort of a trippy version of King Kong, featuring a pair
of foot high singing divas whose song is a telepathic call for help
to their island goddess, the gigantic moth creature, MOTHRA.

THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964) A wandering samurai is swayed into
helping some starving farmers who have kidnapped a local lord's
daughter in protest over unfair taxes. In the process, much blood is,
of course, shed.

WOMAN IN THE DUNES (1964) A disquieting examination of power and
sexuality fueled by stunning visual imagery. An entomologist stays
overnight in a small town, only to awaken the next morning to find
himself trapped by encroaching sand dunes. An essential big-screen

NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS will kick off at the Brattle Theatre on
Friday, April 18th, and continue until Thursday, April 24th. The
Brattle Theatre is located at 40 Brattle Street, in the heart of
Harvard Square. Tickets are $9.50, $7.50 for students and $6.50 for

To learn more about NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS, visit the official Brattle
website at http://www.brattlef, email info@brattlefilm. org or
call the Brattle Film Foundation office at (617) 876-8021.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Donate to a Worthy Cause in the Philippines

You can donate English books that you have read and are just lying around your home, or you can donate money if you`d like to this school in Zamboanga, on the island of Mindanao. They require English books
and a monetary donation is always appreciated.

Most Filippinos can read and speak English and have studied it from the first grade, so English books are always appreciated.

Donations accepted thru:

Child Development Foundation Inc.
Bethany Child Development Center
Brillantes Compound, Governor Ramos
Zamboanga City, Philippines 7000

Bank of the Philippine Islands
BPI Peso Act. #2121-0108-47 or
BPI US Dollar Act. # 2124-0138-39
Bank Access # BOPIPHMM
Zamboanga City Branch

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reasonably Priced International School in Kanagawa

by Clarence Collins

For all you foreigners looking to get your children a good education but can`t
afford the Yokohama International school, have a look here:\

We went and checked out the open house at the main school in Tokyo today, and it
seems like a very good school at a reasonable price.

The thing is, there doesn`t seem to be enough interest to open the Yokohama
school yet.

My thinking is, get some other foreigners to express interest in this so they
are able to fill the classes and we can all send our kids to get a good
education without taking out a second or third mortgage to pay for it.

Check it out if you have kids, call the school and ask about it... the more we
get in Yokohama that want this, the better chance they will open up.

Clarence Collins

Friday, April 4, 2008

Japanese McDonald`s Tasty Morsels

These McDonald`s delicacies are available in Japan.
Check the video out here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

JAPANESE DOLLS: Boy's Day Festival in Japan

by: Helen Vanderberg

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by the concept of having a whole
festival dedicated to dolls? Dolls are shown in Girl’s Day and Boy’
s Day festivals in Japan, and cherished over the generations. Boy’s
Day dolls can consist of anything from a healthy-looking Sumo
wrestler to a samurai warrior or his armor.

The dolls are usually set up in a hierarchal arrangement in the
family home, meant to show, perhaps, the emperor and empress,
courtiers, handmaidens, and warriors in a social hierarchy in a way
a child can understand. The same approach may ring true with the
carp-shaped banners ranged according to size either on a pole
outside the house. The big fish is daddy, next size down is mother,
the next smallest is elder son or daughter. In the countryside, on a
rope across a river, the fish banners represent the villagers.
Everything has a hidden meaning.

Beside the obvious link with Japanese doll festivals, collecting
dolls has a much deeper psychological basis. It is believed that
ancient Japanese samurai warriors tied cloth mascot dolls underneath
their clothing before going into a particularly ferocious fight.

Whether this is true or not, try this experiment. Walk through the
Cairo Museum in Egypt, turn right, and just beyond where the yellow
flowers were found, still colorful after 2500 years in a pyramid
tomb, you’ll come on the figure of a scribe. He’s almost life-
size, seated cross-legged, and as you swing around the corner his
quartz eyes stare out at you across the centuries, and your heart
turns over with a jolt of recognition.

Further north in Istanbul, touring the museum on Topkapi grounds
above the Bosphorus, you come across the statue of Sappho and the
same sense of recognition hits you. This woman lived. And loved, and
wrote amazing poetry. A human response across the centuries since
Ancient Greece.

Dolls give you this leap of recognition, albeit on a much smaller
scale, and you don’t have to be a rabid doll collector to account
for it. Perhaps it is the human miniature that grabs our
imagination. To find out more about a broad range of Japanese dolls,
go to :

To explore these connections further brings us up against questions
of identity. Is it the samurai spirit residing in the young boy’s
heart that needs nourishing? To make a connection with a samurai
doll go to

About The Author

Helen Vanderberg is a novelist, technical writer, copywriter, and an
art appreciator enchanted with things strange or foreign. This
article may be reproduced, provided the author's name and are included in the reproduction.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

From Hunkabutta

Michael Clark a Canadian, first worked as an English teacher in Japan,
here is his take on one incident that occurred during a private lesson
at the school he worked at:

"Good evening Mr. Watanabe, how are you?" I asked.

"Ah, ohhh, ah, good Mr. Clarke," he nervously shot back, getting half out of his seat and then sitting back down. "Ah, anyway," he went on, "how about that erection?"

I froze. "Erection?", I repeated back to him while my face turned red and I slowly moved the textbook that I was holding to hide my groin area.

'My God!' I thought. Could it be true!?! I dared not look. Did I just walk in here with a big woody? I had been flipping through a copy of Vogue in the teacher's lounge.

"E-E-Excuse me," I managed to say.

"You know!" he said, "Erection, Erection, there's a new Plime Minister....It's in the newspaper. How do you say? ... a poritical erection."

--from Michael Clark`s Blog "Hunkabutta"

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Love Driving in Japan!

Pictured: FAG Motors in Odawara, courtesy of Chris Zanella

By Kevin Burns

Anyone can follow the rules, but Japanese Drivers Make Their Own Rules!

Stop signs back home mean stop, Stop signs in Japan are Optional!

Red lights, smed lights, Red lights --they are Optional too!

To Japanese green is blue (go figure?)

Green lights mean go.

Yellow lights mean go.

Even red lights mean go!

I love it here! I never stop for anything!

...Well except for them monster trucks. I mean they are big.

Okay we can`t turn on a red that is a bummer,
and I miss that when I drive in Japan.

But pedestrians, smedestrians, ignore `em!

If they dare to cross, screw `em, you can drive faster!
I Like to see them Run!

Hit one you get 50 points.
Two for a dollar!
(or 150 Yen, the yen is very strong these days)

What about the police you say?

They don`t do anything.

No they ain`t sipping coffee and horking down donuts
at Tim Hortons,
they be checking seat belts,
and at the exact same location and time every week!!!!!
I love Japan!!!!

So you know that at 3:30PM on Tuesday they will be at the tunnel,
and at 5:30PM on Friday they will be at the bridge as usual!
I`ve even gotten to know them because I see them all the time.
"Hi Hiroshi! How`s the wife and kids."

"Okage same de," he`ll say with his usual smile,
as he pulls over some poor schmuck from Kawasaki
who doesn`t know that Friday evening is bridge day in Odawara.
Poor guy,
someone should have posted the schedule for him on the internet.
Maybe that is my task for today.

I love the bosozoku too. They do whatever they want!

And what do the police do?

They don`t do a thing!
One policeman at the police station told me honestly,
they don`t do anything about them.
The law favours the bosozoku should he get injured while the police are persuing them.

One policeman in Fujisawa lost his job over it!
(Apparently a true story unfortunately--Editor)
This bosozoku was driving all over the place and this
cop tried to stop him with a long stick and the bosozuku
crashed into a fence.

No the bosozuku didn`t go to jail, the policeman was fired.

So they don`t bother with the bosozoku much. Not good for job
security and Hiroshi has a pension coming up.

Let`s be honest, the Police are too busy anyway..........

They are…… too busy checking seat belts at the tunnel,
...or doing paper work in the office,
or sleeping on the futon in the back room of the Koban.

Come to think of it, I wish I had become a policeman.
I could use the extra Shut eye.

I love it here. So Sorry, gotta run, --the red light….

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan

Akashi Shoten Inc, Japan's biggest human rights publisher, will sell
Administrative Solicitor HIGUCHI Akira and author ARUDOU Debito from March 15.
Details in brief:

ISBN: 978-4-7503-2741-9
Authors: HIGUCHI Akira and ARUDOU Debito
Languages: English and Japanese (on corresponding pages)
Publisher: Akashi Shoten Inc., Tokyo (
372 Pages. Price: 2300 yen (2415 yen after tax)
Goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants
Topics: Securing stable visas, Establishing businesses and secure
jobs, Resolving legal problems, Planning for the future from entry into
Japan to death.

Interested in living in Japan? Not visiting. Actually living here,
perhaps permanently? In recent years, hundreds of thousands of
Non-Japanese residents have come here for good. However, there is often
insufficient information on how to make your life more secure. HANDBOOK will
help--offering advice on topics like stabilizing your visa and
employment, establishing your own business, dealing with frequent social
problems, writing your Will, even working with Japan's Civil Society. Buy
this book and start planning your future in this wonderful country!

Ordering details at

Further Information follows:
(including the FCCJ, Good Day Books, and Amnesty International)

Advance book reviews (excerpts):
"Higuchi and Arudou's HANDBOOK promises to be the second passport
for foreigners in Japan. It provides a map to navigate the legal,
economic, and social mazes of contemporary Japanese life. Practical and
affordable, clear and concise, the Handbook should contribute not only to a
better life for newcomers to Japan but also to a more humane society in

--Dr John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of
California Berkeley, and author of MULTIETHNIC JAPAN.

"Finally, the book I always wished I had, explaining in clear and
precise language the legal labyrinths that make life interesting and
sometimes treacherous for non-Japanese trying to find their way in Japan.
This is the A-Z what to watch out for and how to do it guide that
will help all non-Japanese living in Japan... I can think of no other
book that comes close in promoting mutual understanding, one that is
grounded in the law and brimming with practical advice."

--Dr Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan,

"If there weren't an Arudou Debito, we would have had to invent
one... Arudou and Higuchi's Handbook is an indispensable reference for
all outsiders who live here for any length of time."

--Alex Kerr, author, DOGS AND DEMONS and LOST JAPAN

(specific details on locales and times at

Sat March 15 Sendai FRANCA
Sun March 16 NUGW Tokyo Nambu, Shinbashi
Mon March 17 Roppongi Bar Association
Tues March 18 Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo
Weds March 19 Amnesty International Tokyo
Fri March 21 Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano
Sat March 22 Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano,
Sun March 23 Good Day Books Tokyo Ebisu
Tues March 25 Osaka FRANCA
Thurs March 27 Shiga University
Fri March 28 JALT Kobe
Sat March 29 JALT Wakayama
Sat March 29 JALT Osaka
Sun March 30 JALT Okayama
Tues April 1 Fukuoka General Union



Migration of labor is an unignorable reality in this globalizing world.
Japan is no exception. In recent years, Japan has had record numbers
of registered foreigners, international marriages, and people receiving
permanent residency. This guidebook is designed to help non-Japanese
settle in Japan, and become more secure residents and contributors to
Japanese society.

Japan is one of the richest societies in the world, with an extremely
high standard of living. People will want to come here. They are doing
so. Japan, by the way, wants foreigners too. Prime Ministerial cabinet
reports, business federations, and the United Nations have advised more
immigration to Japan to offset its aging society, low birthrate, labor
shortages, and shrinking tax base. Unfortunately, the attitude of the
Japanese government towards immigration has generally been one of
neglect. Newcomers are not given sufficient guidance to help them settle down
in Japan as residents with stable jobs and lifestyles. HANDBOOK wishes
to fill that gap....

1 - Understanding the structure of the Japanese Visa System (the
difference between "Visa", "Status of Residence" (SOR) and "Certificate of
Eligibility" (COE))
2 - Procedures for coming to Japan
- Acquiring SOR from outside Japan
- Changing or acquiring SOR from inside Japan
- Chart summarizing Visa, COE, and SOR
3 - Procedures after you came to Japan
- Bringing your family over to Japan
- Leaving Japan temporarily
- Extending your stay in Japan
- Changing jobs in Japan
- Changing SOR so you can work
- Chart summarizing Immigration procedures
4 - What kinds of Status of Residence are there?
- Chart outlining all 27 possible SOR
- Recommendations for specific jobs
- Requirements for select Statuses of Residence
5 - What if you overstay or work without proper status?
- Recent changes to Immigration law
- Examples of unintended violations
- Our advice if you overstay your SOR
6 - Getting Permanent Residency and Japanese Nationality
- Chart summarizing the requirements and differences between the two
7 - Conclusions and final advice on how to make your SOR stable

1 - Characteristics of Japanese labor environment
2 - Labor law
3 - Labor contract
4 - Salary system
5 - Deduction and Taxes
6 - Labor insurance and Social Insurance for workers
7 - Summary

1 Why start a business?
2 Sole Proprietorship (kojin jigyou) or Corporation (houjin jigyou)?
3 Type of corporations
4 Other forms of business (NPO, LLP)
5 Procedures for starting a business by setting up a kabushiki gaisha
6 Business license
7 Periodical procedures to keep your business going
8 Advice for a successful business
9 Terminology

(These are frequently asked questions about overcoming obstacles and
improving your lifestyle in Japan.)
if you want to study Japanese
if you want to open a bank account (and get an inkan seal)
if you want a credit card
if you want insurance (auto, life, property)
if you want a driver license
if you want to buy a car
if you are involved in a traffic accident
if you want Permanent Residency (eijuuken)
if you want to buy property
if you want to sell your property, apartment or house
if you need counseling or psychiatric help
if you want to take Japanese citizenship (kika)

if you are asked for a passport or ID ("Gaijin Card") check by police
if you are asked for a passport or Gaijin Card check by anyone else
if you are arrested or taken into custody by the police
if you are a victim of a crime

(What we mean by "discrimination", pg ##)
if you are refused entry to a business
if you are refused entry to a hotel
if you are refused an apartment
if you have a problem with your landlord, or are threatened with
if you are refused a loan
if you want to protest something you feel is discriminatory

if you want legal advice, or need to find a lawyer
if you want to go to court
if you want to go to small-claims court (for fraud, broken business
contracts, etc.)

if you want government support for labor dispute negotiations
if you want to join or form a labor union
if you want to find another job

if you want to get married
if you want to register your children in Japanese schools
if you want to register your newborn Japanese children with
non-Japanese names
if you have a problem (such as ijime bullying) in your children's
if you want to change your children's schools
if you suffer from Domestic Violence
if you want to get divorced
if you are having visitation, child custody, or child support problems
if you are a pregnant out of wedlock by a Japanese man

- Corporate Retirement Benefits (taishokukin)
- Pension (nenkin)
- Private annuity (kojin nenkin)
- Long-term investment
- Elderly care and Nursing Care Insurance (kaigo hoken)
- Medical care and Medical services for the aged (roujin hoken)
- Guardian for adults (seinen kouken)
- Inheritance (souzoku) and taxes
- Last Will and Testament (yuigon, igon)
- Japanese rules regarding family inheritance
- Culturally-sensitive funerals (osoushiki)
- Japanese cremation rules
- Repatriating a body for ceremonies overseas
- Maintaining a funeral plot in Japan

1. How to find a group
2. Starting your own group
3. Formalizing your group (NGOs etc.)
4. Making activism more than just a hobby.
5. Running for elected office
6. Staying positive when people claim "Japan will never change"
7. Conclusions


Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Most Important Things That You Need To Know Before Getting Japanese Kanji Symbols For Kanji Tattoo Designs

Pictured: FAG Motors in Kanagawa, an example of what can happen when you don`t know what you are writing in another language. Let`s be careful out there! Photo courtesy
of Chris Zanella

The Most Important Things That You Need To Know Before Getting Japanese Kanji Symbols For Kanji Tattoo Designs

by: Jun Yamamoto

The Most Important Things That You Need To Know Before Getting Japanese Kanji Symbols For Kanji Tattoo Designs

Today, thousands of people from western countries such as USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and from most of European countries have already some Japanese Kanji symbols tattooed into their skin. In other interesting cases, the Japanese Kanji symbols are often placed on cards, cars, motorcycles, and other personal things to express their uniqueness. Most of those people are eager to find a way of having one, or information about the Japanese Kanji symbols.

For those who have considered themselves more unique than others, or who want to stand out from the crowd, having a tattoo designed with the Japanese Kanji symbols seems to be one of the best solutions for them, because of the fact that the Japanese Kanji symbols have three distinctive features; form, sound, and meaning. Kanji is a set of ideographic alphabets which represents concepts and ideas, by which you can easily put your thoughts and ideas in the Kanji symbols used. This is why Kanji tattoos have gotten so popular among unique people all over the world.

With a Kanji tattoo, you can express how unique and special you are considering these features of Kanji symbols mentioned above. When having your name, a word or phrase translated into Kanji symbols, therefore, it is extremely important to choose accurate and appropriate ones that convey the meaning you wish to express with the Kanji tattoo.

Why am I saying this here? Because I have seen so many people who unfortunately have wrongly-put Kanji symbols tattooed, or have them tattooed upside down in their skin! I really want you to avoid this kind of situation. Also, beware of picking wrong Kanji symbols scattered across the Web, and some of the Japanese name generators that you can access for free, which may only cost you in the end.

In order for you to avoid this situation, I would strongly recommend consulting with a native speaker of Japanese who has a solid knowledge of the Japanese Kanji system. Based on my research on this subject, would be the best solution to this. Mr. Ken Suzuki, the operator of this site, is a native speaker of Japanese, and has been a reliable Japanese translator for many years. In case you decided to create a Kanji tattoo on your own, it is always safer for you have a Japanese translator check the Kanji symbols you are going to use, or consult a reliable resource like “The Image Dictionary of 500 Japanese Symbols for Creative People.”

Either way, just be sure to have the Kanji symbols that you are going to use for your tattoo checked by a professional Japanese translator.

Jun Yamamoto

About The Author
Jun Yamamoto is a professional translator (from English to Japanese) for many years, and is based in Tokyo, Japan. For more information about the article, please visit

Friday, January 18, 2008

Surviving Culture Shock

Survival Tips for Dealing With Culture Shock

* Realize that pointing fingers and blaming, depletes energy and wastes time.

* Develop your network of friends more. Have some beer with peers but not to the point of cutting yourself off with the Japanese community that surrounds you.

* Be thankful for what you have. Innocent rot in jail cells. There are millions without enough to eat. So get a grip. At least you're getting paid.

* Exercise and vitamin B supplements are excellent stress busters.

* Remember you’re not alone and everyone goes through it. Ask co-workers & friend how they best coped with it.

* If a lot of your troubles are coming from the inability to speak Japanese, buckle down and study. Get some study partners lined-up where you exchange English for Japanese.

* Blow off a little steam..."

Visit our homepage.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Tokyo Game Playing Meet Up--JIGG Games Club

Pictured: the boardgame Made for Trade

Title: Game Day: Yoyogi Uehara

Date: Saturday, 26 2008
Time: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Cost: Free (as far as I know)
Next reminder: The next reminder for this event will be sent in 6 days, 23 hours, 56 minutes.
Location: Oyama Kaikan
Notes: Here's directions to the Oyama-cho Kaikan where we'll be having the
game day. Everyone is welcome, and you don't
need to let me know beforehand. Just show up if you want.

We'll be there from 9 am until 10 pm so come whenever you like, and
bring anything you want to play. Surely there will be someone who
will take you up on it.

A link to a map is here if you like that sort of thing:
http://www.mapion. uc=1&grp= all&nl=35/ 39/58.968& el=139/40/ 34.212&scl= 25000&bid= Mlink

If you are coming by train, you'll want to go to Yoyogi Uehara station
on the Chiyoda/Odakyu lines or Higashi Kitazawa station on the Odakyu
line. The two stations are adjacent, so get off at whichever one
comes first depending on the direction from which you are coming.

Then follow the map, or these directions.. .whichever is easier (call
my cell phone if you get lost (090-2316-0491) :

---Directions from Yoyogi-Uehara station (this is about a 10 minute walk)

Exit the ticket gate and go straight down a short flight of steps.
You will see McDonald's on your left as you get to the bottom of the
steps. Turn right and go up few steps to the road. Turn right again
and follow the wall on your right. The tracks are above you.

About 50 meters down, the road ends in a T intersection. Turn left
and go to the 4-way intersection with a traffic light. You'll be on
the corner with Origin Bento. Turn right and cross the street. You'll
be heading toward the tracks and will go under them.

Proceed straight up this road about 200 meters (after going under the
tracks you will see a mosque on your left) until you come to an
intersection at the third traffic light. You will see the Daily
Yamazaki convenience store across the way. Turn to the right and walk
about 50 meters. You will see a Shell gas station on your right.
Right across the road from the station is a cement two-story building,
the Oyama-cho Kaikan.

Japanese Weight Loss Secret

Japanese weight loss secret. by Mimi-chan

Recently, I read an article from a Japanese magazine that by consuming agar-agar (dried-kanten) with our favorite teas, we can lose weight, and yet still maintain a feeling of fullness, according to Professor Takako Yasuoka of Yokohama Soei Junior College in Kanagawa. Because it was deemed safe, the Japanese valued agar-agar as part of their diet from ancient times. In its dehydrated state of weight, agar-agar supposedly contains 81% of dietary fiber, which makes it a highest content of fiber among all foods! Due to its unique chemical property, when you dissolve agar-agar in boiled water and refrigerate it, it sets. So, when you consume agar-agar with your tea 10 minutes before your meal, you can attain a felling of fullness without overeating. Agar-agar is attained from various kinds of sea weeds. Agar-agar dissolves in boiling water at 80C and gets set below 40C. 1 tsp of agar-agar sufficiently sets itself in 500 cc liquid. This is probably why one would feel fullness after drinking it. Interesting to note that agar-agar contains almost zero calories. Another merit of agar-agar is that its high content of dietary fiber works to repress respiratory systems of sugar and fat in our body system, which in turn prevents high cholesterol and sugar level. This ob course prevents constipation and diabetes. In addition, agar-agar contains various minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Professor Yasuoka advices to dissolve agar-agar in 1/2 tsp amount to our favorite teas and try to drink it before it sets. This way, we do not have to taste the powdery flavor of agar-agar. You can also mix dissolved agar-agar to your juice or chilled tea. If you like, you may also use agar-agar as a miso soup ingredient.

About the Author

Mimi-chan is an author for All articles may be used and reprinted as long as they have an active link at the bottom pointing to with the anchored text: Teanobi - Green Tea

An Overview of Japan for Travelers

Pictured: Mount Fuji, by Sandra Isaka

An Overview of Japan for Travelers by Richard Monk

For such a tiny total landmass, Japan has left an undeniable stamp on human history. If you are considering Japan as a destination, here is an overview of the country.

An Overview of Japan for Travelers

Extending along the eastern coast of Asia, Japan is a country consisting of a collection of islands. The mainland, as we think of it, is the island of Honshu. There are three other large islands, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and roughly 3,000 much smaller islands comprising what we call Japan. Put together, the total land mass is slightly smaller than California. The geography throughout the islands is mountainous, best exemplified by Mt. Fuji at 12,385 feet. As you might expect, the island country is inherently recognition of a volcanic are and Japan experiences earthquakes fairly frequently, some on a large scale.

Japan is an extremely urbanized country with most people living in major cities. The two prominent religions are Shintoism and Buddhism. The belief systems are harmonious and often share the same temples.

Per legend, Japan was founded by Emperor Jimmu around 600 BC. The current emperor is a descendent of the first.

The first interaction with the West was in 1542 when a lost Portuguese ship landed in Japan. Over the next century more Westerns came, but they were not trusted. The Japan shoguns eventually banned all foreigners and the country was isolated for over 200 years. Not until 1854 did Japan open its doors to the world under the Convention of Kanagawa with the United States. Once this occurred, Japan quickly evolved from a feudal state to a more modern approach.

World War I was a boon for Japan. Fighting on the side of the victorious Allies, Japan repeated new respect as an economic and military power following the defeat of the Axis. Alas, the emperor of Japan went in a different direction after the war, seeking dominance of China and Asia in general.

In 1937, Japan became an ally of Nazi German. This eventually led to its decision to pursue an attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Following four years of war, the loss of 3 million Japanese lives and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered to the United States on September 2, 1945. It was stripped of most of its territorial holdings and was ruled de facto by General Douglas MacArthur, designated the Supreme Commander.

Following World War II, Japan turned to a democratic system through reforms. The U.S. and allies returned complete control to Japan on April 28, 1952 via the Treaty of Peace. Although its days as a military power were over, Japan once again became an economic giant. Despite its relatively tiny land mass, Japan has the second biggest economy in the world.

Modern day Japan covers 145,902 square miles. The capital is Tokyo. The terrain is best described as rugged, mountainous islands with varying temperatures.

The people of Japan are called "Japanese." The total population is just over 127.4 million people, but the population is decreasing slightly in size. Japanese is the primarily language spoken and literacy rates are 99 percent. Japanese males have a life expectancy of 77 years while women live to 84 on average.

With its mountainous island landscape, Japan is a hot destination spot for travelers. It is expensive, but a visit to Mount Fuji alone makes a trip worthwhile.

About the Author

Richard Monk is with - a site with facts about everything. Visit us to read more about country facts and Facts about Japan.

Japanese Art and Language

Pictured a Kyoto temple, courtesy of Fuji Film staff

Japanese Art and Language by Misa Takahiro

A technological leader located on over three thousand islands in East Asia, Japan has a truly fascinating history, the second largest economy in the world, a challenging language, prolific arts, a diverse population.

Japan has a rich history of art spanning over centuries. Painting is the traditional form of art. Native painting techniques are mixed with techniques from continental Asia and the West to create a hybrid style of modern Japanese art. Calligraphy, also known as Sumi-e, is also a highly valued form of art. Calligraphers make ink by grinding a solid ink stick on stone and mixing it with water and compose phrases, poems, stories, and single characters in unique handwritten fonts.

Visitors to Japan will know that sculptures of Buddhist images is a common art form The most common images are of Tathagata, Bodhisattva and My0-0. Another unique are form is ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. It focuses on the use of harmony, color, rhythm, and design to express the season and symbolize greater things than the flower itself. Ukiyo-e means "pictures of the floating world" and is the Japanese form of woodblock printing. The most famous print is The Great Wave at Kanagawa by Hokusai. Traditional Japanese architecture is exemplified by temples, Shinto shrines, and castles in Kyoto and Nara. Famous modern architects include Yoshio Taniguchi and Tadao Ando, whose styles are a fusion of Japanese and Western influences.

The Japanese language consists of three scripts--Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. There are many more dialects than scripts. In central Japan the Western-type dialects are most prevalent. The Tokyo-type dominates in Western Japan and Kyushu-type is the least common dialect. In modern Japanese the Latin alphabet romaji is sometimes used. Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Choosing the right program is paramount in learning the language.

About the Author

Misa Takahiro is an editor at She loves the Japanese language and enjoys sharing what she has learned with others.

The History of Japan

Pictured: The book, "Requiem for the Battleship Yamato

by Jim Sherard

A land richly steeped in history and culture, legend attributes the creation of Japan to the sun goddess Amaterasu, whose claim to the throne by her grandson Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C, was a traditional belief that constituted official recognition until 1945. The first indication of recorded history in Japan was around the year A.D. 400, when the ambitious Yamato clan based in Kyoto was successful in gaining control over several other key family groups in central and western Japan. The next several centuries were kept under the tight reign of this powerful clan, who succeeded in creating an imperial court similar to that of China, and whose authority was eventually undermined by influential aristocratic families who vied for control. Also emerging in the same period were elite warrior clans referred to as samurai, a strong military force that eventually took control in 1192 under their leader Yorimoto, who was designated as the supreme military leader known as Shogun. The imperial court who had ruled for centuries was now resigned to taking a relatively obscure role in internal affairs, as a succession of Shoguns from various clans ruled Japan for the next 700 years. Contact with the West was initially made in 1542, when a Portuguese ship apparently off course arrived in Japanese territory, and an array of Spanish, Dutch, English, and Portuguese traders and missionaries soon followed. Trade was eventually prohibited during the beginning of the Tokugawa period (1603-1867) due to the Shogun's suspicions that traders and missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest from the west. All foreigners were subsequently expelled from the country, with the exception of Dutch and Chinese merchants restricted to the island of Dejima in Nagasaski Bay. Attempts from the West to renew trade were futile until 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry entered Tokyo Bay with an American fleet known as the “Black Ships.” The ships were named in reference to the color of their hulls, and to the black clouds of smoke that hovered over the steam driven coal burning vessels. Perry's show of superior military force enabled him to negotiate a treaty with Japan that opened the doors to trade with the West,thus ending many years of self imposed isolation.

Contact with the West proved to be the catalyst for a radical restructuring of Japanese society on several levels. The Shogunate which had retained control for hundreds of years was forced to disband, with the emperor being restored to power in 1868. The period that followed is known as the “Meiji Restoration” and among the many changes it initiated was the abolishment of the feudal system. Numerous policies were adopted based on the Western legal system, and a quasi parliamentary constitutional government was eventually established in 1889. These new reforms also prompted Japan to take steps to expand their empire, and a brief war with China in 1894 enabled them to acquire Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and part of southern Manchuria. War broke out again with Russia in 1904, with Japan ultimately gaining the territory of southern Karafuto, with Russian port and rail rights in Manchuria also being forfeited to the conquering Japanese forces. Their expansion continued with the onset of World War One, as they successfully took control of Germany's Pacific islands, and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles that followed granted Japan mandate over the islands. Japan attended the peace conference in Versailles with a new image as one of the great military and industrial powers, and was recognized as one of the “Big Five” of the new international order. In just a few decades, Emperor Meiji's new reforms which significantly altered the social, educational, economic, military, political, and industrial structure of the country, transformed Japan into a viable world power.

As Japan's eye for expansion became increasingly more apparent, the invasion of inner Chinese Manchuria in 1931 set the stage for the ensuing years of war that followed. The incident brought with it international condemnation, resulting in Japan resigning from the League of Nations in 1933. Fueled by an expansionist military, the second Sino Japanese War began in 1937, which resulted in the signing of the Axis Pact of 1940 between Japan and its new allies Germany and Italy. The infamous attack against the U.S. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 marked the beginning of Japanese involvement in World War Two, and subsequently to their ultimate defeat in 1945 by U.S. Forces. General Douglas MacArthur was appointed commander of the U.S. occupation of postwar Japan, and in 1947 a new constitution took effect, followed by a security treaty between the two nations in 1951 that allowed U.S. troops to be stationed in Japan. Japan regained full sovereignty in 1952, and the Ryukyu islands including Okinawa which were seized during the war were returned to Japan in 1972. Japan's postwar economic recovery was nothing short of miraculous, and it's success in part was spurred by economic intervention through the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry which was instrumental in coordinating and organizing the cooperation of manufactures, distributors, suppliers, and banks into closely knit groups called firetruck. Additional incentive among workers who were guaranteed lifetime employment, along with highly unionized blue collar factories ensured a highly motivated work force, eventually making Japan the world's second largest economy in the world.

About the Author

Jim Sherard is the author of "Land of the Rising Sun, A Guide to Living and Working in Japan", which can be found at:

Religion in Japan

Religion in Japan by Jim Sherard

Religion in Japan more than a specific set of beliefs or doctrines practiced on a daily basis, is a blend of traditions that stem from the early teachings of Shintoism and Buddhism, and which most Japanese have incorporated into rituals and customs that are applied on special occasions, such as visiting a Shinto shrine to mark the birth of a new baby, or attending wedding ceremonies performed by Shinto priests. Buddhism also plays a large role in this religious heritage, in that most funerals in Japan are overseen by Buddhist priests, who in addition to their specific duties at the ceremony perform an ongoing series of rites on death day anniversaries of deceased family members. Many of the festivals in Japan known as Matsuri are also chiefly of Shinto origin, and are often symbolic ceremonies representing the cultivation of rice and the spiritual well being of the community. Matsuri are popular events that are usually associated with Shinto Shrines, and are held annually over the course of several days. One of the key features are processions in which the local Kami (Shinto Deity) is carried through the streets on a portable shrine called a Mikoshi, often accompanied by drum and flute music. Every local festival has it's own unique characteristics, but most tend to be noisy, energetic occasions that offers the community an opportunity to come together in joyful celebration. Although most holidays in Japan are secular in nature, News Year's Day is marked by family traditions that are based in Shintoism, such as the consumption of special food, and visiting various Shrines throughout the day with family members to pray for blessing in the upcoming year. Bon Festival (Obon) in mid August is another well known event for Buddhists which marks the annual visit of ancestors to the earthly plane, and involves frequent visits to Buddhist Temples. Family altars are decorated with special spirit emblems, and ancestral graves are cleaned in anticipation of the return of the souls of family members since departed. Many people also return to their home towns to visit relatives, and to participate in celebrations such as folk dancing and prayers at local Buddhist temples.

The origin of the Shinto religion is for the most part uncertain, but some scholars ascertain it emerged thousands of years ago as a cultural extension of immigrants from China, who upon arriving introduced agricultural rites and shamanic ceremonies which invariably took on Japanese characteristics in the new environment. The word Shinto means "the way of the gods", and proclaims no specific founder or sacred scriptures. The basic premise of the religion is that sacred spirits known as Kami take the form of objects and concepts significant to life, such as mountains, trees, wind, rain, rivers, and fertility. Human beings are capable of becoming Kami after they die, and the Kami of extraordinary people are sometimes enshrined as a show of respect. In contrast to many of the worlds monotheist religions, Shintoism does not profess to a set form of beliefs. The world is seen as being composed of various shades of gray, with no absolute forms of right and wrong. Humans are regarded as being fundamentally good, and immoral behavior is believed to be caused by evil spirits which must be kept at bay by Shinto rituals, prayers, and offerings to the Kami. The arrival of Buddhism in the sixth century exerted profound influence on Japan's social, intellectual, artistic, and political life, and as a result Shinto temporarily fell out of favor. Fortunately the two religions were soon able to co-exist harmoniously, with many Buddhists viewing the Kami as manifestations of Buddhas.

In addition to Shinto and Buddhism, Japan was introduced to Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries with the arrival of European traders and Jesuit missionaries, resulting in the conversion of thousands of Japanese to Roman Catholicism. In 1549 a Jesuit priest by the name of John Fernandez arrived in Kagoshima from Spain with hopes of bringing Christianity to Japan. Thinking they would reduce the influence of the powerful Buddhist monks, the Shogunate initially supported the Christian movement, but as sentiment changed in the years to follow Christianity was banned by the government, and those who refused to abandon their new faith were killed. Christianity is currently practiced by approximately 1.3 million people in Japan. Although it represents only a small fraction of the population, Christmas is widely observed, though in a mainly secularized form. Christian organizations have also left their influence by founding well known educational institutions such as as Kwansei Gakuin University, International University, and Sophia University.

About the Author

Jim Sherard is the author of "Land of the Rising Sun, A Guide to Living and Working in Japan", which can be found at:

The Magic of Kyoto

The Magic of Kyoto by Jim Sherard

Pictured: A Kyoto pagoda, (courtesy of Fuji Film Staff, Minami Ashigara Shi)

Japan: The name evokes images of cherry blossoms and temples, of Samurai and Kimono clad Geisha. The contemporary Japan of today is a diverse conglomeration of history and tradition merging with a future that often struggles to understand itself. A country vibrantly alive and awaiting the traveler who seeks to experience a culture replete with skyscrapers and bullet trains, of castles and paddy fields lined with rustic wooden homes. What better place to begin your journey within this exotic land than the city of Kyoto. This extraordinarily beautiful city with its abundance of shrines, temples, palaces, gardens, and historically priceless buildings, exemplifies the essence of Japanese culture and history. With over 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines architecturally still intact, it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan, and a top tourist destination for foreigners and Japanese alike.

One of the most frequently visited sites is the Zen Temple of Kiyomizu. Its wooden veranda supported by hundreds of pillars located on a mountain slope overlooking the region provides an awe inspiring view of the city below. Visitors are also able to stand beneath the temple's waterfall Otowanotaki and collect water in tin cups to quench their thirst before hiking the mountain path that leads from the structure to the tranquility of the forest above.

Two additional temples which are also popular attractions are Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji. Construction of Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) began in 1397 as part of a new residence for the retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and was converted into a Zen Sanctuary after his death in 1408. The Pavilion is covered in gold leaf, and houses sacred relics of the Buddha. Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) was modeled after Kinkakuji, and is located at the foot of Kyoto's Higashiyama mountains. Built as a villa for Ahsikaga Yoshimasa, (a descendant of Yoshimitsu) the building was also converted into a Zen Shrine after his death in 1490.

Another impressive structure that is a well known tourist destination is Nijo Castle. Located on the eastern edge of a 70 acre compound, the building consists of 33 rooms, and is famous for the intricate paintings of landscapes which adorn the Palace's sliding doors, and for the innovative construction of wooden floors that squeak like nightingales when walked upon which was employed as a security measure against intruders.

Other memorable sites in and around Kyoto include the "Philosophers Walk", the Gion District, and Arashiyama, a charming tourist area distinguished by its landmark Togetsukyo Bridge, with Mount Arashiyama standing peacefully in the background. A wide selection of cafes, restaurants and shops are located near the famous bridge. If you venture a short distance north you'll also come across a cluster of bamboo groves and residential district with several small temples placed placidly among the wooded hillside.

The "Philosophers Walk" refers to a scenic two kilometer path running south from Ginkakuji Temple along a meandering river to Nyakuoji Shrine, and was named after philosophy professor Kitaro Nishida, who could often be seen using the pathway. The Gion District located northwest of Kiyomizu Temple consists of flagstone paved lanes lined with traditional buildings, where if you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of Geisha as they make their way gracefully down the cobblestone streets.

About the Author

Jim Sherard is the author of "Land of the Rising Sun, A Guide to Living and Working in Japan", which can be found at:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Minding Your Global Manners

Pictured: Sunset at Miyajima, courtesy of Fuji Film staff

Minding Your Global Manners

Minding Your Global Manners

By: Lydia Ramsey

To say that today's business environment is becoming increasingly more global is to state the obvious. Meetings, phone calls and conferences are held all over the world and attendees can come from any point on the globe. On any given business day you can find yourself dealing face-to-face, over the phone, by e-mail and, on rare occasions, by postal letter with people whose customs and cultures differ your own. You may never have to leave home to interact on an international level.

While the old adage "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" still holds true, business clients and colleagues who are visiting this country should be treated with sensitivity and with an awareness of their unique culture. Not to do your homework and put your best international foot forward can cost you relationships and future business. One small misstep such as using first names inappropriately, not observing the rules of timing or sending the wrong color flower in the welcome bouquet can be costly.

There is no one set of rules that applies to all international visitors so do the research for each country that your clients represent. That may sound like a daunting task, but taken in small steps, it is manageable and the rewards are worth the effort. Keeping in mind that there are as many ways to do business as there are countries to do business with, here are a few tips for minding your global P's and Q's.

Building relationships: Few other people are as eager to get down to business as we Americans. So take time to get to know your international clients and build rapport before you rush to the bottom line. Business relationships are built on trust that is developed over time, especially with people from Asia and Latin America.

Dressing conservatively: Americans like to dress for fashion and comfort, but people from other parts of the world are generally more conservative. Your choice of business attire is a signal of your respect for the other person or organization. Leave your trendy clothes in the closet on the days that you meet with your foreign guests.

Observe the hierarchy: It is not always a simple matter to know who is the highest-ranking member when you are dealing with a group. To avoid embarrassment, err on the side of age and masculine gender, only if you are unable to discover the protocol with research. If you are interacting with the Japanese, it is important to understand that they make decisions by consensus, starting with the younger members of the group. By contrast, Latin people have a clear hierarchy that defers to age.

Understanding the handshake: With a few exceptions, business people around the world use the handshake for meeting and greeting. However, the American style handshake with a firm grip, two quick pumps, eye contact and a smile is not universal. Variations in handshakes are based on cultural differences, not on personality or values. The Japanese give a light handshake. Germans offer a firm shake with one pump, and the French grip is light with a quick pump. Middle Eastern people will continue shaking your hand throughout the greeting. Don't be surprised if you are occasionally met with a kiss, a hug, or a bow somewhere along the way.

Using titles and correct forms of address: We are very informal in the United States and are quick to call people by their first name. Approach first names with caution when dealing with people from other cultures. Use titles and last names until you have been invited to use the person's first name. In some cases, this may never occur. Use of first names is reserved for family and close friends in some cultures.

Titles are given more significance around the world than in the United States and are another important aspect of addressing business people. Earned academic degrees are acknowledged. For example, a German engineer is addressed as "Herr Ingenieur" and a professor as "Herr Professor". Listen carefully when you are introduced to someone and pay attention to business cards when you receive them.

Exchanging business cards: The key to giving out business cards in any culture is to show respect for the other person. Present your card so that the other person does not have to turn it over to read your information. Use both hands to present your card to visitors from Japan, China, Singapore, or Hong Kong. When you receive someone else's business card, always look at it and acknowledge it. When you put it away, place it carefully in your card case or with your business documents. Sticking it haphazardly in your pocket is demeaning to the giver. In most cases, wait until you have been introduced to give someone your card.

Valuing time. Not everyone in the world is as time conscious as Americans. Don't take it personally if someone from a more relaxed culture keeps you waiting or spends more of that commodity than you normally would in meetings or over meals. Stick to the rules of punctuality, but be understanding when your contact from another country seems unconcerned.

Honoring space issues: Americans have a particular value for their own physical space and are uncomfortable when other people get in their realm. If the international visitor seems to want to be close, accept it. Backing away can send the wrong message. So can touching. You shouldn't risk violating someone else's space by touching them in any way other than with a handshake.

Whether the world comes to you or you go out to it, the greatest compliment you can pay your international clients is to learn about their country and their customs. Understand differences in behavior and honor them with your actions. Don't take offense when visitors behave according to their norms. People from other cultures will appreciate your efforts to accommodate them and you will find yourself building your international clientele.

Author Bio

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at or visit her web site

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Nintendo Wii Hardware Reviewed and Explained

Nintendo Wii Hardware Reviewed and Explained

Nintendo Wii Hardware Reviewed and Explained

Nintendos seventh generation gaming console was code named Revolution. It sought to becoming futuristic and including all conveniences like a wireless controller and Wii remote which has three dimensional functions. The Nintendo Wii also has Wii Connect 24 which can receive messages from the World Wide Web.

Slated for release in the US in mid Nov 2006, the Ninetendo Wii won the Game Critics Award for Best of Show and Best Hardware at the E3 2006. The hardware of the gaming console is state-of-art with the unit being the smallest measuring just 157 mm in height :

• The loading slot is in the front and accepts 12cm optical discs and 8 cms discs from Nintendo's older console.

• The console will have two USB ports and one SD card slot.

• In Japan the console will have DVD -Video capabilities. A Sonic Solutions Cine Player CE DVD Navigator software engine will be used in consoles to be released in 2007 with DVD-Video functions.

• The Wii remote has accelerometers and infrared detection that enables positioning in 3D space. This means gamers can participate in the game using hand gestures as well as buttons. The controller connects to the Wii console through Bluetooth technology. There are umpteen functions like connectivity to other devices, 4KB non volatile memory and an accelerometer, analog stick and trigger buttons.

• The Wii has a sensor bar that can be positioned such that the Wii remote can be used as an accurate pointing device from a distance of 5 meters. However the sensor bar is sensitive to halogen lights and sunlight affecting its functions.

• The Wii CPU has a processor known as Broadway with a 90nm SOI CMOS process. The Memory of the Wii is 1T-SRAM.

• The Nintendo Wii has 512 MB built-in flash memory that can be expanded using an SD card.

• The Wii has four remote controller slots; one SD memory slot; two USB ports; one sensor bar port ;four Nintendo game cube controller ports; two Nintendo game cube memory card ports; WiFi 802.11.b/g wireless built in ports.

• The Wii can connect to the World Wide Web through the WiFi and USB to Ethernet adaptor.

The CNET editors have rated the Nintendo Wii as an 8 /10. According to experts at CNET the positive is the futuristic controller design with motion-sensitive gameplay options and the Wi-Fi is all set to extend free online services and game play. The Nintendo Wii is the most affordable of all GenX gaming systems. The negative in the Wii is short battery life, no advanced HD graphics or surround sound and inability to play CDs or DVDs.

What Nintendo Wii brings to gaming is an affordable console with motion sensitive controllers and a focus on fun filled gaming.

Author Bio

Aaron Brooks is a freelance writer for, the premier website to play thousands of free online games including arcade games, action games, card games, flash games, strategy games, puzzle games and more. He also freelances for Free Software Downloads Site

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