Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

Happy Halloween!! That's right, it's that time of year; tomorrow is Halloween and Japan is all a twitter! Japan has slowly been adopting this holiday into its own traditions (funnily enough this has coincided with the arrival of ALTs in Japan) and more and more you can see Halloween decorations and products becoming prevalent in Japanese pop culture. And just like everything else in Japan, Halloween is not going to be an exception to the weird and wonderful treatment that only the country that brought you vending machines panties and deeply-confusing anime narratives can afford...

Check out some of my favourite Halloween picks below...

Friday, 26 October 2012

T.G.I.F.: Halloween Parade, Kawasaki Train Station

Happy Halloween! Are you excited for a spook-tacular Halloween this year? Are you missing the Halloween celebrations from home? Well Japan is steadily adopting this western tradition into their annual events so luckily for you, you can enjoy all the festivities right here in Japan.

Of particular note is the Halloween Parade round Kawasaki Station, east side. The festivities begin at 2.30 and carry on until 4pm (the event will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain). You can watch the procession, or join in by visiting this website to register. One group will depart from LA CITTADELLA and another from City Hall with the goal of reaching Kawasaki Station. As well as costume competitions, DJ Taku Takahashi (m-flo, block.fm), DJ Genki RocketsDJ SOULJAH, plus the winner of the Kawasaki Halloween DJ competition will be spinning tracks. Click the image below for more details.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Travel Log: Roaming in Southeast Asia (Part 4)

It was the same night as my run-in with “Brisbane” that found me returning to my hotel room quite alone having departed from my comrades at the bar. Having put myself to bed for no more than 10 minutes, it began. The most horrible screaming could be heard from the room next to mine. I was sure someone was being murdered...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Travel Log: FujiQ Highland

You may have noticed that last week we were unexpectedly minus one T.G.I.F. post. This is because I was no where near a computer last Friday (when I make the T.G.I.F. posts) because I was at FujiQ Highland on a school trip with my students. FujiQ Highland is a cluster of roller coasters in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. One of these roller-coasters ("Fujiyama") used to hold the Guinness World Record for the tallest roller-coaster (now the 8th tallest), and another has the Guinness World Record for the steepest decent ("Takabisha"). Although we were at the amusement park for about 5 hours, there was nowhere near enough time to do everything. We even missed out on the park's famous haunted house (set in an abandoned hospital, visitors must try to find their way out while dodging zombies!). If you ever get a chance, FujiQ is a must-see!

Check out some pictures below!

Tops Tuesdays!

Does anyone else see this ("Zeus," the new chewing gum range from Lotte)...

Source: http://jonellepatrick.me/tag/zeus-gum/

...and think of this...?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Travel Log: Fox Wedding in Numazu

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and participating in a fox-themed wedding in Numazu. The wedding was being held at the fox shrine by the Kano River. Volunteers were asked to come along and have their faces painted like foxes then participate in a "fox parade." The bride and groom also had their faces painted like foxes. This was a real ligit wedding; a rare experience for foreigners like me to attend. This is largely because (if a foreigner is lucky enough to be invited) wedding guests in Japan are expected to pay the new couple between $100 to $300 as a kind of start-up money instead of giving them a traditional gift. This means attending a wedding tends to be limited to immediate family in Japan because it is just so damn expensive for us underpaid English teachers. But anyway, I was lucky enough to snag an almost front row seat so I could capture some amazing photos of the fox wedding for your enjoyment. Continue reading for some of my favourite snaps below!

Tops Tuesdays!

Corn-Man. This dude has been spotted off and on around Tokyo's Yamanote train line for the past 6 months but no one has been able to ascertain his purpose and what exactly his pet corn husk on a red dog leash means...

If you see him around, snap a picture and let us know! The mystery continues!

Friday, 12 October 2012

T.G.I.F: Festival of Lights, Yugawara Onsen

For those of you who missed out on the fireworks and festivals that make Japan's summer famous, this Saturday there will be an Autumn festival entitled "Festival of Lights" at Yugawara Onsen. The parades and festivities begin and continue from 7pm. As well as a drumming performance at 8pm, there will be fireworks from 8.20pm. 

Yugawara Onsen can be reached from Yugawara Station by shuttle bus. Yugawara Station is situated on the Tokaido Line. The nearest shinkansen station is Atami. Once at Yugawara station, take the bus bound for Fudonotaki (不動の滝) for 8 minutes then walk 1 minute to the onsen. Just follow the crowd. 

The Yugawara Onsen Facebook page has some pretty spectacular photos and videos if you want to see what the festival entails. Also, click the image below to visit the Yugawara Onsen website (Japanese)...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Travel Log: Hanagasa Dance Festival, Ito

Last Friday night, I participated in the Hanagasa Dance Festival in Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture. I was taken to a dress shop in the town of Ito and dressed in a beautiful black kimono and then briefly taught the necessary traditional Japanese dance moves I would need for the parade. Many different troops of people made up the parade of dancers who moved through the streets of Ito to the tune of a 25-minute-long traditional Japanese song. After the song, we took a five minute break and then began again. The parade route took a little over one hour to complete so you can imagine I was tired by the end! Enjoy some snaps below...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

I saw this floating around on Tumblr and decided that it would be totally awesome if it actually existed. The title of this sweet bread is "Black Melon Pan" (meaning 'black melon-flavoured bread'). Does any one know if and where it is being sold in Japan? Leave a comment!


Friday, 5 October 2012

T.G.I.F: Formula 1 at Suzuka Circuit, Mie-ken

If you have a need for speed or are feeling a bit fast and furious, this T.G.I.F. post may be just for you! This weekend in Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture (50km south of Nagoya), you can enjoy the thrills and excitement of a Formula 1 race. The race is being held on October 7th and you can purchase tickets by clicking on the image below. The best way to get to the Suzuka Circuit is to take the shinkansen to Nagoya Station and take the special direct limited express train ("Suzuka F1") to Suzuka Circuit Ino Station (takes about 40 minutes and costs 2,500yen one way). Seat reservations are mandatory. Also check out this link for more information.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

For this more sombre and serious edition of "Tops Tuesdays" I would like to share an article I have found on RocketNews24.com. Japanese author Haruki Murakami has written an passionate appeal to both Japanese and Chinese citizens for peace during the Senkaku Islands dispute. Currently both countries are waging a territorial war over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands which lie between the two nations. Racial tension between the two countries has been on the rise lately. Recently, a Chinese high school in Yokohama cancelled its Chinese celebrations and parade over fears of conflict with local Japanese residents. When Murakami--the author of such popular works as 1Q84 and Norwegian Wood--heard that books by Japanese authors were being removed from Chinese books stores, he wrote this plea. The team at RocketNews24 has translated Murakami's essay into English.

Below are a few excerpts from the essay of particular note:
"As a Japanese, as a writer, I fear that the dispute over the Senkaku islands, and even the recent troubles involving Takeshima, will do little but destroy the cultural world that we have all worked so hard to create over many years, and dig up the path that we have laid, brick by brick. 
"...[I]f we show restraint, and, however quietly, that we value, respect and continue to love what it is that we have achieved over many long years of hard work, then it is we who undoubtedly reap the rewards in the end."
It's a beautiful essay and you can read the full translation here.
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