For many people, Japan, its culture, its landscapes and its mysteries exert a very strong fascination. It is certainly the case for me and since I managed to move and settle in Tokyo, I have decided to share my experience through this blog. You will find a large array of articles describing you the most beautiful sites of the archipelago, guides in order to facilitate your travel or relocation to Japan, extensive picture and video galleries, and a detailed glossary of usual Japanese terminology. I hope that it will be useful to those who have an interest in Japan, whether they want to live there or just visit for a few weeks.
If I ask you to visualize Japan in your head, a multitude of pictures should immediately invade your visual field; temples, geisha, sushi, samurai, manga characters, etc... But if I ask you to think of Tokyo, it is more likely that this time, images of a sprawling life in a futuristic cityscape will populate your mind. This city, and other major Asian cities in general, have strongly infused popular culture, especially cyberpunk and science fiction, probably because of their exuberance and their bustling activity. I propose to share with you some pictures and videos of these urban landscapes taken at night and give a little insight on their meaning for me.
Tomorrow, Friday 21st of September 2012 is the official launch of Apple's new iPhone 5. We covered last time the launch of its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, and discussed about how it fast-forwarded the adoption of smartphones by Japanese customers in order to replace their dear keitai phones. Today, let's check whether Apple will renew their exploit and let's watch the highlights of the event, directly from the Apple Store in Ginza, the trendy district of Tokyo.
Most people with an interest in Japan are aware that the summer season is one of many matsuri (festivals) which are often accompanied with copious amounts of music playing, dancing, eating, and drinking. Although the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri festival is one of the largest dance festival organized in Tokyo during that season, what makes it truly special is the actual type of dancing that is being performed, the Yosakoi. Compared to other traditional summer dances, the origin of Yosakoi is a lot more recent and it is therefore a lot more influenced by pop culture. What better place to organize Japan's most important Yosakoi festival than in the center of youth and fashion, the district of Harajuku? Let's explore the whole Yosakoi in more details!
Wakimachi City is located in the Tokushima Prefecture in the eastern part of the Shikoku Island. Shikoku is the smallest of the four Japanese main islands and it is connected to the largest, Honshu, by the Onaruto and Akashi-Kaikyo bridges. During the Edo and Meiji eras, Wakimachi was a very prosperous city of merchants, mainly thanks to its central position in the distribution of indigo (Aizome, 藍染 め) via the Yoshino River. Practitioners of traditional Japanese martial arts are familiar with Aizome since it is the dye that is used for making items like hakama and some dogi. For non-martial art practitioners, one of the great attractions of the city is its Mainakashima neighborhood that has maintained the former residences of the Aizome merchants in their original form, in particular their udatsu that consist of two columns built on each side of the facades first floor.
This morning, a very special atmosphere can be felt along the short path that leads me to the subway station Yotsuya. The salary-men and women don’t have the nose on their mobile phones as usual, but for once, they look towards the heavens. The reason for this unusual, almost alarming behavior (especially for a company so devoted to his routine), is obviously the fact that this morning, we are all expecting a very particular celestial phenomenon: an annular solar eclipse. All televisions have warned us and we are ready to witness it. We bought goggles and we look forward to 7:34 am.
Sunday, May 20th was the fifteenth and final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament held annually in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. This year, the Mongolian Kyokutenho, at the advanced age of 37 years, made an incredible to win against his younger opponent and favorite Tochiozan. A rare occurrence in this world of codes and strict restraint, tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the giant who emerged victorious. Let’s review this special day in images and video.
Every year in Japan, the blossoming of the Sakura, the Japanese cherry trees, marks a sort of rebirth after the harsh winter months. This event is probably amongst the most important in the Japanese calendar and people never fail to gather amongst family or friends, in order to admire the delicate white and pink flowers and of course, to enjoy some yakitori with a rather large sip of sake. This year, more than any other, this feeling of renewal is palpable everywhere. Last year, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the nuclear disaster that they caused, had greatly undermined the festivities but one year later, people are now ready once again to enjoy the small pleasures of life such as Hanami. After a year of mourning and restrain, it is now considered alright to go out and elect in an innocent hedonism.
I recently wrote an article dealing with the risks of radioactive contamination associated with the consumption of food in Japan. This article was prompted by the publication of the first set of data estimating the distribution of the cesium throughout Japan's cultivable land. Earlier this month, the results of another significant effort led by researchers at the University of Tokyo was published, this time, dealing with the doses of radioactive iodine to which the populations of the Tokyo area were exposed in the aftermath of the nuclear crisis triggered by the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the crippling of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. In very much the same way as last time, I propose to analyses this paper and try to extract the most significant information for the Tokyo residents or those wishing to visit Japan soon.
This is the full speech that His Majesty the Emperor of Japan gave on Sunday 11 March 2012 during the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami memorial service that was held at the National Theater in Tokyo, Japan. I filmed it at Shinjuku Alta Studios where the whole ceremony was broad casted onto the giant screen facing the station.
Tokyo under the snow is quite a rare sight for it does not usually happen more than once or twice each year. Moreover, given the size and activity of the city, the white cover does not usually last long. This morning however, I was delighted when I woke up a saw the distinctive white cover on the roofs of the buildings across the street. A bit worried that it would not last long, I took my camera on my way to work and shot the best sights that I came across with while on my way.