Friday, September 11, 2009

Wondering what to Read about Living and Working in Japan

There are many great books about living and working in this interesting part of the world.

Read More

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Japanese Movie: Sukiyaki Western Django

Add to your movie list:

"Sukiyaki Western Django"

Reviewed at:

Before you watch this movie you must be familiar with the "Tale of Heike". Without such, it is a bit dry and absurd. With such, it is a scream.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weather Advisory from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo

Dear Canadian citizen,

As you may have heard on the news already, many regions of Japan are current under weather advisories for heavy rains, land slides, high waves and flash flooding due to the effects related to Tropical Storm Krovanh (aka Typhoon #11).

Please take precautionary measures by avoiding low-lying areas, shorelines of rivers and coastal regions for the next 24 to 48 hours. Also, please be certain to follow any safety instructions issued by your local municipalities in the various regions of Japan.

For additional information please refer to the Japan Meteorological Agency website:

As this tropical storm is receiving media coverage by international media outlets, you might consider contacting your family and friends back in Canada to advise them of your safety status.

Stay safe,

Consular Section
Embassy of Canada, Tokyo, Japan.

Cher(ère) citoyen(ne) canadien(nne),

Comme vous le savez possiblement déjà, plusieurs régions du Japon sont présentement sous alerte météorologique suite aux fortes pluies, glissements de terrain, hautes vagues et inondations dues aux effets de la tempête tropicale Krovanh (aka Typhon # 11).

Merci de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires afin d'éviter les zones de faible altitude, les rives des cours d'eau et les régions côtières pour les prochaines 24 à 48 heures. Veuillez vous assurer de suivre toutes les mesures de sécurité émises par les autorités locales de votre municipalité dans toutes les régions du Japon.

Pour plus d'informations, merci de vous référer au site de l'agence météorologique du Japon au :

Puisque cette tempête tropicale fait l'objet d'une couverture médiatique, vous voudrez possiblement contacter votre famille et vos amis au Canada afin de les rassurer sur votre situation.

Soyez prudent,

Section consulaire
Ambassade du Canada, Tokyo, Japon

NVC: Non-Violent Communications Group Holds Workshop in Tokyo

The NVC (nonviolent communications) group here in Tokyo is holding a workshop in November for beginning to intermediate (maybe advanced as well) learners of NVC. We are hoping to attract many new faces :)

I am holding an information meeting to primarily introduce NVC to the Zen community here in Japan,
and secondarily to find like minded people interested in youth, early childhood work. I am hoping to
open and expand on my terakoya which I ran for a week this summer, and start a youth project using
NVC as a base. If you are interested, or know anyone who is, please forward this part on. I will be recommending
to those who are interested to join the Tokyo workshop in November as a starter.

ZEN and Compassionate Communication information seminar (ZENVC)
Regina Splees
Meetings - Informational Meeting
Sunday, September 27, 2009
3:00pm - 6:30pm
Chofuu\ku-ji (長福寺)
Muraoka Higashi 3-358
Fujisawa, Japan

Nonviolent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication, is a way of relating to ourselves and others, moment to moment, free of any past happenings. By learning to identify your needs and express them powerfully, as well as understanding and being present to the needs of others, you can stay connected to your authentic truth and create a life that it is more fulfilling.
( from

ZENVC represents wisdom and experience derived from both Nonviolent Communication (NVC), as developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., and Zen Buddhism.


A) What is NVC / ZENVC
B) A little bit about empathy
C) Future endeavors:
1) Open study group
2) sponsor workshop / training
3) develop modern Terakoya
4) Create a Youth Project

簡単に言うと、非暴力コミュニケーション(英語で、NonViolentCommunication,(NVC))はコミュニケーションにおいて相手とのつながりを持ち続けながら、お互いのニーズ(必要)が満たされるまで話し合いを続けていくという、共感を持って臨むコミュニケーション の方法です。非暴力コミュニケーションは (NVC) 、思いやりの言葉だ、より良い社会への変革の道具だ、或いは、スピリチュアルの実践だ、などと説明されます。NVC は私たちに、何が私たちを触発するかを理解したり、自分の反応に責任を取ったり、自身と他者とのつながりを深めたりするための道具と意識を提供し、それによって私たちの人生に対する習慣化された反応を変えてゆきます。最終的には、私たちが人生やその意味についてどう考えるかを根本的に変える必要があります。
最近、社会に関わり行動する仏教(Engaged Buddhism)のために世界中の仏教者が、一つの方法として、非暴力コミュニケーションを利用しています。ZenPeacemakersのファウンダー、グラスマン老師がZenPeacemakerのプログラムの中で非暴力コミュニケーションワークショップを入れています。「行学不二」と言う表現を利用して考えています。というのは、非暴力コミュニケーションは禅を生きる力の一つと考えています。



Saturday, August 15, 2009

JIGG Table Games Club

JIGG Table Games Club offers free membership!

We play air hockey, foosball or table soccer, subbuteo, table hockey,
electric football, chess, shogi, go, backgammon, table tennis and more!

You get the idea!

Join us at the link below:

Friday, August 7, 2009

KevCon: Boardgames Weekend, Sept. 12th & 13th, 2009

KevCon fun starts on Saturday, September 12th and finishes at dinner time on
Sunday, September 13th.


3PM on Saturday


Kevin`s House
Address: Iizawa 242-23 Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa
Email: greatpowers at

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bulletin Japan - Lego to the Rescue

by: Dr. Rob R. Moore

We have heard it before: The average Japanese student is doing as well in mathematics as the best US students. In test after test, the top 5% of US math students are matched by the top 50% of their Japanese counterparts.

Why should that be so? Surely US students compare well with Japanese learners in terms of intelligence, and potential.

Well, we know that schools stay open longer in Japan, an average two hours per day longer, than in the US. It has also been pointed out that in order to promote proper attention to classroom lessons each Japanese classroom period is followed by a recess aimed at allowing excess youthful energy to be discharged. Sadly, this is at a time when many US schools are being forced to abolish recesses altogether because of the threat of violence recesses pose.

Until recently, the one area in which US students continued to outperform their Japanese counterparts was that of creativity. That is, in tests measuring the ability of students to innovate, US learners seemed to be able to consistently rank higher than Japanese learners in their ability to formulate a number of solutions to any given problem.

However, beginning roughly in 2004, Japanese schools introduced a system of creativity training that seems to be opening doors for Japanese students. Today, Japanese students' performance on creativity evaluation instruments is at least as good as that of American students.

Surprisingly, the creativity training system being referred to here was developed by an American University (MIT), and is available to every American school and family. However, the system has not been utilized as in the US as hoped. The name of this magic system is Lego Mindstorms.

Dr. M. Csikszemtmihalyi, in his work entitled Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, emphasized the importance of providing a sense of freedom, a sense of educational flow to students if we wish them to be creative in mind and spirit.


Mindstorms provides unlimited opportunities for all students to practice free flow thinking as they create mechanical systems of various kinds. However, it is only the Japanese who have fully internalized this message.

Creative flow is, unfortunately, the one environmental element that formal accredited US school programs, especially at the middle and high school levels, find difficult to promote. This is no one individual's fault really. It is rather a logical result of an emphasis on strict adherence to administratively approved programs geared to satisfy state mandates, and the effect these programs have on creative flow, especially when accompanied by the bells and buzzers that John Dewey introduced into American education after his exposure to successful Prussian military training camps at the turn of the last century. See:

Lego Mindstorms creativity programs have, of course, been attempted in American schools, and occasionally one such program can still be found. Unfortunately though, Lego creativity programs have run into obstacles on American campuses as students, in the competitive atmosphere created by the reigning system, aggressively compete for Lego resources, sometimes resulting in violence. When this occurs, the subsequent threat of litigation posed by parents quickly forces school authorities to retreat from free flow programs toward fully restrictive, "in your seat" offerings. This situation then exacerbates the lack of "flow" necessary for promoting creativity among learners.

However, all is not lost.

Many parent groups are attempting to encourage public school districts throughout the United States to look closely at their delivery systems.

In addition, motivational scholarships are being offered by entities such as ToysPeriod in the form of Mindstorms scholarships to encourage free flow creativity in the schools.

Further, there are school models that continue to serve as models for how free flow can work in the US.

For example, Waldorf Schools present materials to students as they, the learners, are ready for them. The Waldorf system looks to each student and responds to each student's academic and physical need as it occurs. In other words, Waldorf never imposes subject matter on segmented age groups as if students were all the same. Waldorf's student-first philosophy then goes a long way toward motivating a student body to enjoy learning, and therefore to fully benefit from Lego Mindstorms offerings. In the online school community, Linda Christas Academy has promoted a similar philosophy.

A warning blast, however, has shaken California Waldorf Schools recently. As Waldorf begins to accept state money, the State educational bureaucracy is looking with some disfavor on the individualized educational concept for which Waldorf stands. Only time will tell if Waldorf is able to maintain its integrity in the face of such state challenges.

From the Lego Mindstorms perspective, beginning with the individual student and his or her learning needs is not rocket science, although with Mindstorms rockets are a definite option.

About The Author
Dr. Rob - Toy Tech writes for "Ask Toy Tech" - the ToysPeriod blog. ToysPeriod is a premier online vendor of classic Lego set toys and model trains. Dr. Rob also writes for

Dr. Moore is the holder of two PhD's, one in mathematics, the other in physics.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Best Face Masks for the Flu

The best bet for protective masks are what are referred to as "N95 respirators," a commonly used term in Canada that refers to NIOSH-certified, disposable, particulate-filtering, half-facepiece respirators.

Not all high-quality masks are labeled N95. Health Canada said masks should offer protection equivalent to N95 to be considered effective. Such masks should:

  • Filter particles one micron in size or smaller.
  • Have a 95 per cent filter efficiency.
  • Provide a tight facial seal (less than 10% leak).

CBC News Marketplace tested three types of N95 masks in the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003. Each filtered out between 97 per cent and 99.7 per cent of all the virus-like particles.

--CBC News

Learn Japanese for Free at These Sites

Smart FM is great. The name is strange--nothing to do with FM
radio but check it out. I love this site!

Webjapanese has some free lessons as well as lessons you must pay for.
Check this site out.

Lang-8 is a journal writing site


Edufire: you can learn one on one or take a group lesson online.


iTunes has a compilation of Japanese lessons. For Japanese grammar
check out Guide to

A wiki for Japanese grammar can be found at

Rikaichan allows you to hear the Japanese words you don`t know how to
read by putting your cursor over the word to hear it.

Visit Koichi`s Japanese language and culture blog too.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

World Laughter Day Yoga in Tokyo

Sunday, May 3rd, 11AM -2 PM Yoyogi Park

Laughter Yoga started in India in 1995 and has since then been spreading like wildfire around the globe. It is a unique form of exercise developed by a medical doctor, Madan Kataria. It incorporates breathing techniques from yoga but is fun and easy for anyone to do regardless of physical or other limitations. A sense of humor is not required. Laughter begins with exercises but soon becomes contagious, and the result is prolonged and hearty unconditional laughter. Laughter Yoga, providing tremendous physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual benefits, is a complete well being workout.

World Laughter Day is a positive manifestation for world peace and is intended to build up a global consciousness of unity and friendship through laughter. Please join us for the Japan celebration of this very special annual event!

We'll meet before 11AM on the far side of the fountains (middle of Yoyogi Park) if you are coming from Harajuku Station.
You can also meet us at 10:30AM at Harajuku Station, Omotesando Exit, where someone will be holding up a sign.
In case you get lost that day, please call Linda: 090-9373-7652 or Susie: 090-4265-8502.

If it rains:
the celebration will still be held but at Saginomiya Taiikukan (4 minute walk from Saginomiya Station on Seibu Shinjuku Line; 10 min from Shinjuku; 8 min from Takadanobaba). You can go directly if it's raining hard, or we can take you there from Harajuku Station. In case the weather is iffy, we'll decide where to hold the celebration by 10:30 at the latest. Please call Linda: 090-9373-7652 or Susie: 090-4265-8502. (Note: We start around 12 but there won't be any of us at Saginomiya Taiikukan before 11:30)

What to bring:
Comfortable clothes, water, lunch and a picnic mat to sit on.
There are drink machines in the park, but food is hard to come by, so it's best to bring something from home.

Schedule: 11am –12 noon Laughter exercises 12 noon – 1pm Lunch and Laughter games

The World Laughter Day celebration is free. Donations are welcome.

Reservations are not absolutely necessary but would be very helpful to the event planners.
If possible, please email Akira:

For more information:
World Laughter Day in Tokyo:
Laughter Yoga International: Akira Sugiura

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Japan Living is Now at Facebook

Pictured: Sunset at Enoshima, looking towards Mount Fuji
in the distance.

JL is also available at Facebook if you prefer that format for forum
posts etc. A good place to make friends in Japan as well, or make
friends interested in Japan.

Check it out here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tengu Natural Foods, Organic food sent right to your door in Japan!

Tengu Natural Foods sells a huge variety of natural foods (organic food).
You can visit their shop in Saitama or have it delivered right to your door,
which is what I do.

Visit Tengu`s Website

More from Tengu:

You can now take part in the various services we have to offer you. Some of these services include:

  • Permanent Cart - Any products added to your online cart remain there until you remove them, or check them out.
  • Address Book - We can now deliver your products to another address other than yours! This is perfect to send birthday gifts direct to the birthday-person themselves.
  • Order History - View your history of purchases that you have made with us.
  • Products Reviews - Share your opinions on products with our other customers.

    For help with any of our online services, please email the store-owner:
  • Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Sanno Hospital in Tokyo

    Sanno Hospital in Tokyo has English speaking doctors and interpreters
    available. It also has an informative website in English:

    Visit Sanno Hospital

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    Budget Night Bus to and from Tokyo to Various Places in Japan

    Pictured: Kyoto

    Their prices are very cheap!
    Their homepage is:
    Tel: 03-5322-8988

    Tokyo to:

    Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe: \3,900
    Hiroshima: \7,200
    Kokura, Hakata (Kyushu): \8,000
    Sendai: \3,200
    Aomori: \5,000
    Kanazawa: \4,300

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    The Four Agreements--Ruiz

    The Four Agreements--Ruiz

    1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
    Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to
    speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of
    your word in the direction of truth and love.

    2. Don't Take Anything Personally
    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a
    projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune
    to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of
    needless suffering.

    3. Don't Make Assumptions
    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
    Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid
    misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement,
    you can completely transform your life.

    4. Always Do Your Best
    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be
    different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any
    circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment,
    self-abuse and regret.

    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    Police Lieutenant arrested for taking picture of woman’s legs on train in Kanagawa

    Monday 12th January,


    A 59-year-old police lieutenant was arrested early Monday for violating a Kanagawa public nuisance ordinance, accused of taking pictures on his cell phone of a woman sitting across from him on a train on Sunday.

    Shigeyuki Usui, head of the traffic section at the Misaki police station in Miura City, is accused of taking a picture of a 24-year-old woman’s legs as she sat across from him on the Keikyu line at about 6 p.m. on Sunday. The man sitting with the woman told police he noticed Usui’s cell phone camera flash and heard the camera function twice. He took Usui to station staff when the train stopped at Kanazawabunko station.

    One photo of the woman’s legs was found stored on Usui’s cell phone, but he has denied the allegation, saying: “I pressed the wrong button on my phone. I didn’t mean to take a picture.” Usui also said he had been drinking at a friend’s house in Yokosuka City and was on his way home.

    --Japan Today

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Narita Airport Express Lane for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan

    Well, I just got back from a holiday trip and lo and behold... Narita, at least
    at terminal 2, has
    instituted lines for people holding re-entry visas. So now there are 3 lines.
    One for Japanese,
    new entry foreigners, and now one (with about 4 or 6 windows to it but not bad)
    for those
    with re-entry visas.

    It's basically back to the old days except getting to put the fingerprints into
    the system.


    They have had that set up since they started the fingerprinting. The longest I have spent in line now has been under 10 minutes.

    I have also had people from the other lines ask if I was in the wrong line with a look of jealousy on thier face, when they find out the re-entry line is so short.

    C. Zanella

    I don't recall this being the case at terminal 1 then. I remember only
    the two lines. That said, I got preferential treatment when i went
    there with my two kids. We got moved into the priority lane which is
    almost always a no-waiting line. Time to rediscover that crick in your