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From: Tokyo Times

Quite how the regulations are dealt with I don’t know, but starting work as a Japanese farmer appears to require one to be at the very least a septuagenarian, although ideally it would seem they’d still prefer someone a little more senior.

Tokyo farmers

And yet despite their advanced years, these ageing agriculturalists have the mindboggling ability to bend down for periods of time so prolonged that afterwards someone more than half their age would seriously struggle to stand up — let alone straighten up.



Over the weekend I took a trip down to Tokyo for a business meeting and to enjoy some quality shochu andyakitori with friends. I was leaving the house around lunchtime when my mother-in-law asked if I wanted some of the curry she was cooking before I left. I told her no thanks — what I wanted for lunch was ekiben, the famous “train station bento” that you buy to eat on a train. The world of train station bento lunches is great — each station makes it own unique type, which represents what that part of Japan is known for. If you visit Toyama along the Sea of Japan, buying masu-no-sushi bento (salmon sushi sold in a big wooden frame) is great, and when my son and I made our trip to Hokkaido, we knew we had to try Ikemeshi Bento. The nearby city of Takasaki is famous for daruma dolls, so naturally you can buy Daruma Bento at the train station there.

Walking around Tokyo is always fun. In my home prefecture of Gunma, located about 100 km northwest of Tokyo, most people drive their cars when they need to go somewhere, but in Tokyo it’s more common to use the the extensive network of trains and subways instead. This means you’ve always got at least 50-100 people around you whenever you’re out and about, which means plenty of opportunity for one of my favorite hobbies, people-watching. As usual, I’m always amazed at the intensity of the fashion culture I see in Japan’s capital, with extremely attractive Tokyo girls sporting interesting fashions that can sometimes make my eyes spin in their sockets. By which I mean they are so beautiful that foreigners in Gunma informally talk about to the “Wall of Omiya” (a city between Gunma and Tokyo) as the point where all the pretty, stylish girls get off the train.

From:  Japan for Sustainability

The All-Japan Parent-Support Taxi Association announced on March 1, 2010, that the number of taxi companies that have joined its program has grown to 68 in 21 prefectures, and Parent-Support taxi drivers authorized by the association totaled 838, as of February 28, 2010. Taxis labeled with a Parent-Support Taxi logo, a registered trademark, are equipped with a child seat and offer a pick-up service for parents with babies or infants, who often need to carry large bags, or for children riding alone. Customers first have to register as a member of the users’ group, which then allows them to use the service at the regular taxi fare rate.

Only authorized drivers of participating taxi companies that meet the association’s criteria are allowed to offer the Parent-Support Taxi service, and they are required to complete more than eight hours of a training program designated by the association, and a half-day of on-site child-care training. In the training, they study safety measures for infants and children, and practice cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to handle an automated external defibrillator (AED). They also get to experience real-life scenarios that pregnant women and mothers might face, such as walking in the rain with a small child, bags, and a baby carriage, all while wearing a special “smock” shaped with a large tummy to mimic the feeling of being pregnant.

The service offers various programs, including a Kangaroo Program for infants with an attendant, a Chick Program for children with no attendant, an Owl Program for emergency or night-time pickups, and a program for pregnant women. The association is planning to create a new program for children with disabilities.


Sushi is probably the most famous Japanese food. Make your way to Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the largest fish markets in the world, for some of the freshest sushi around

Soba and udon
Soba, buckwheat noodles, and udon, thick noodles made from wheat, are two of the most popular types of Japanese noodles.

Let’s face it; tofu doesn’t have the best reputation in the West. Even if you aren’t crazy about tofu or just can’t shake its bland, flavorless image, you’re sure to find a tofu recipe that will make you reconsider this Japanese delicacy

Shabushabu is a dish that uses thin slices of meat dipped in boiling water or broth, which you then dip into a flavored sauce and eat.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that has its roots in China. It consists of a meaty broth, noodles, shredded meat, and vegetables.

From: Japan Trends

It’s not news that some of Dydo’s vending machines talk to you. Put yours coins in the slot and they say greetings in Japanese (”Welcome!”, “Good Morning” etc). They even give warnings to collect the change or insert more money when necessary. First introduced in 2000, Dydo then developed special versions for the Kansai region with “friendlier”, more casual speech, and then continued localizing for Aomori and Nagoya.

Now with tens of thousands of the machines up and down the country, the first new version in two years arrives in Okinawa. Though it seems to stop short of shouting “Get Out Futenma Air Base!” the unit does use local expressions and words, it seems, in attempts to please and entice the local consumer. Just look for the dramatic yellow and red sticker.


It is interesting that, whereas for decades many countries (such as Britain) were ashamed of regionalaccents and dialects, and made efforts to suppress their usage in the media, Japan has no let-ups about celebrating these differences and utilizing them for marketing purposes. Rather, hyojungo (standard Japanese, spoken in the Tokyo area) is seen as a tad boring and if you’re going to the extra effort of making vending machines that talk, you might as well make them fun!

Anyone been to Fukuoka? It seems very pretty! You can share pictures, too!

From From Japan with Love;

This is a great video that shows many spots in Fukuoka city (the big city about 30 minutes from me and where I used to live). It is about 10 minutes long and starts in the morning and goes into the night so you can see how things change.

As you are watching you will sometimes here a kind of music or a mechanical kind of bird sound-those are the cross walk signals for the blind (which are only there because people donate money to keep it going). Also, you will notice along “Nakariver” people are setting up little stalls with doors or plastic-those are “yatai” or night time food stands which Fukuoka is famous for. Every time my friend comes from Tokyo she goes to one. You will see “Canal city” which is a famous shopping mall. There is also “ohori park” which is a big beautiful park in the city and the “Nakasu” area which is famous for night time entertainment.


Here’s a fascinating short clip that’s more than just another Tokyo time lapse. It starts off looking much like all those other videos of blurred lights and neon skylines. But then suddenly a tiny character walks onto the scene.

Very beautiful, cute and short, I hope everyone enjoys it too.

Japan is actually doing pretty well in its efforts to cut down on smoking in public. Like most Asian nations, it still has a long way to go, but at least you don’t see as many cigarette butts on the street as you did years ago.

Here’s an unusual campaign that I came across online. It’s a series of anti-smoking posters from More than a few of these are a little bit strange. Have a look at these three and let me know if you agree. Drop on over to the jti website and browse the others if you have a moments. There are lots more where these came from!

Source: 3yen

Cute overload Japanese toy merchandising bubble Rilakkuma has even puddings. Eat it when relaxed. Or vice versa!

Source: Shibuya 246

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