Japan

Japan’s Most Beautiful Villages: Shirakawago

As the title suggests, there should be some beautiful picture of this beautiful village in central Japan in this post: so here it is. Located in the mountainous regions of Gifu Prefecture near Takayama city is the beautiful city of Shirakawago. It’s so beautiful that it’s even listed in one of the 39 Japan’s most beautiful villages alliance(only in Japanese). This post has been long overdue and I apologize for the lack of posting but as my last post suggests, that young people are heading out to Tokyo and the larger cities for better opportunities I still feel that there is so much more that the country side in Japan has to offer. This committee that decides the “beautiful villages” has a nice guideline on how it decides which villages should be on the list. Just because the villages “looks” beautiful doesn’t cut it. For example, the village of Iitate over in Fukushima was chosen for its “madei way” of life which incorporates a self-sufficient life style not relying on technology nor nuclear power(the irony as this village was affected by the recent crisis). But the way people interact and appreciate each other’s presence within the community was also seen as a big part to these guidelines. If you ever get a chance to break away from Tokyo I would highly  recommend hitting up one of the many beautiful villages in Japan.

At the entrance of Ogi Village.

Ogi village. Rice fields and the light green color covers the entire vicinity.

Shirakawago is worldly known for its gasho-zukuri minka homes.

Title: Untitled

The narrow road leads you back into the village.

The water is as clear as you can get. You can see all sorts of fish and animals along the water route.

View of Shirakawago from the top of the observatory.

Shirakawago awaits you.


The Misconception of “Tokyo = Japan”

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time especially after living abroad and hearing from my non-Japanese friends talk about their travel experiences in Japan. Especially after the 3.11 crisis, one of the first reactions I noticed was the foreign concern over whether or not Tokyo was affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Second impression was people saying “Oh Tokyo is not affected, phew then everything is cool”. I agree, Tokyo is the capital city; center for Japan’s politics, economy, culture and society and if Tokyo was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami, the effect on Japan and the entire globe would have been detrimental(hence the nuclear reactors were strategically tucked away in a local environment but we can talk more on this later). But from my experience abroad, besides a small number of Chinese people who have come to  love the flower gardens in Hokkaido, most people will definitely start off in Tokyo and maybe visit Kyoto to see the “ Real Japanese culture” if they have time. I think it’s right to say that most people can’t name another prefecture other than Tokyo or Osaka. From this concept  it is not a mistake for foreigners to think that Tokyo is what Japan is all about. But from this 3.11 crisis and the effect of the Tohoku region to the rest of Japan has taught us that a much more balanced country with resources spread across the entire country is desperately in need.  But domestically speaking, why is everyone moving to Tokyo? This summer I have spent much of my time traveling around the local scenes around Japan and I can clearly see that not only the birth rate in Japan is in decline but it’s even more severe in the regions outside of Tokyo. “The youths have all left and found a new living in Tokyo and Osaka” said one of the shop keepers in Miyazaki prefecture.

This trend of human resources, information technology centering in Tokyo has stopped the development of other areas in Japan. When in times of crisis I can’t stop but to think of how the US has New York as its financial center and Washington DC as the center for politics; China has Shanghai and Beijing … you get my point. But this nuance of “If I go to Tokyo, I can make something/prove something for myself” ideology still exists today especially within the youth. It’s also interesting to note that the flexible and easy passage to Tokyo, making it possible for anyone in Japan to relocate to Tokyo. For a comparison with China, it’s not that easy for a Chinese person living in a third tier city to move into Beijing just because there’s more opportunities in Beijing. You need to have enough money saved up to get by in Beijing. Either way, this crisis has taught us many lessons and this idea of centralizing everything into Tokyo needs to stop now and regional government bodies need to step up. Is another round of Tokyo re-bidding to host the 2020 summer olympics really necessary? I’d prefer seeing Hiroshima and Nagasaki co-host it more than anything. Surprisingly enough I run into people who are surprised that the city or Hiroshima still even exists today…

I don’t know the GDP break up of Korea off the top of my head but Seoul as the financial center and capital could be similar to Japan as its proximity to the North Korean border(DMZ) has always been a concern to many of the Korean specialists that I have come into contact with.

Around Shibuya Station in Tokyo in the afternoon with busy traffic

A platform at JR Shibuya Station

The JR Subway Map at Shibuya Station. Most prefectures surrounding Tokyo have benefited from the proximity to Tokyo and its relatively cheaper real estate.


[Photo] Where’s the news about Japan these days?

It’s been 100 plus days since 3.11 and unless you are in Japan, I feel that you rarely hear too much about the aftermath of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami these days. In China, after a week or two topic of interest quickly switched over to the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. Its’ interesting to see how most of the major foreign media companies spit fired all they want talking about how Fukushima is the next Chernobyl and they ignored how the survivors are dealing with their changed every day life. No one can deny the great amount of hysteria that was caused by the foreign media journalists post 3.11. Foreigners in Japan or “flyjins” were in panic and had no choice but to flee the country believing the words from their media of origin. In Japan, I feel that most Japanese media companies looked up to foreign media outlets in the past. You could find that most articles in Japan would use an US media company to enforce the writer’s point or thesis. But what happened? I have seen stereotypical adjectives come up in pieces that if a writer really understood the complex society of Japan, he/she would never have used; such terms like Ninjas or Kamikaze to describe the Fukushima 50. The greater portion of interest for readers and writers may be over but in reality, Tohoku region is still in ruins today even after 3 months. In a country like Japan, still left in ruins even after this much time, to me, tells the story of how significant this incident really is. Since being back in Japan for a week now I can’t stop but to hear stories about the survivors from the Japanese media; how it has changed Japan as a society and how people interact with one-another. I learned today that over 1,500 children have lost one or both of their parents from the earthquake and tsunami. According to NHK, the government has stated that family members who have not been found past 3 months can be declared dead as opposed to the usual 1 year rule that was applied in Japan. That means family members are rushed to find their beloved ones as reconstruction is carried on at high pace; making it harder for them to find family members. There are days recently that not a single body is found as more than 7,000 people are still missing. In Japan, survivors yearn for their family members body to return back to them even if they know the person is already dead. All I ask is for everyone to take a moment and please think about the survivors and the family members of the victims. Their journey to recovery  has just begun while the aftershocks have yet to end.

By: Go Katayama

Chinese people take a close look at the "Japan Tohoku Earthquake Photo Exhibition" at 798 Art District in Beijing


[Flashback] Mount Bandai, Fukushima Prefecture 2010

Couple days ago, my Chinese friend had asked me if I had ever been to Fukushima Prefecture as he wanted to get a better sense of what this whole region is like. Chinese media has been covering the radiation levels as much as western media and you could easily find an article or two on the front page of the major news source for the last couple weeks. Putting aside all the talks on radiation, Fukushima to me was a place full of nature and beauty, attracting tourists from all over the country. Last summer, when I briefly visited Fukushima what stood out to me the most was Mount Bandai. Mount Bandai is located in the outskirts of Tohoku’s second largest city of Koriyama and is famous for its “goshoku-numa” or the 5 color lake (see photo below). These lakes were formed with the volcanic  eruption imparting mineral deposits to the Five Colored Lakes giving each of them their own delicate color. In China, there is also the famous Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province, which also has these colored lakes in a much larger scale. From what I know, the vast majority of Koriyama residents have not evacuated and are trying to live their lives as normal as possible but it’s just a shame that these beautiful sceneries won’t be seen for some time until the radiation levels lowers in the region. It’s a pity that Mount Bandai and Jiuzhaigou were both located near where the natural disaster had occurred. I wanted to share some of these images since you rarely see any news on Fukushima but the radiation these days. I thank you for your continued support for Japan. Japan still needs friends.


[Photo] With You Japan, Live Strong 2011 March 19

First off, I am thankful for all the new subscribers and readers of my site. Please check out my info page to learn more about my work and photography from Asia. It has truly been an encouraging last couple days receiving numerous messages and tweets from around the world. As far as my current residence in Beijing goes, I was walking around an area around the Drum Tower, when I saw a sign on top of a designer store that read “With You Japan, Live Strong 2011 March 19”.  It was nice to see a store in China thinking about Japan. For the latest updates on Japan’s situation and road to recovery, I am translating Japanese media into English on my twitter feed @gokatayama. Feel free to follow me and join in on the conversation.


[Flashback] Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture 2010

I debated whether or not I should post these photos but I can’t stop but to think of Matsushima, one of the three views in Japan. Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima is a group of 260 islands, in various sizes, covered in pine trees. With the earthquake last Friday, I have seen many sources that this scenery is now gone and 600 people were killed in this area. I saw twitter feeds saying that the tsunami came through Matsushima and now it is empty and it doesn’t have the same feel that it did last week before the earthquake hit. For the latest updates on Japan’s situation and road to recovery, I am translating Japanese media into English on my twitter feed @gokatayama. Feel free to follow me and join in on the conversation.


Earthquake in Japan: a Letter from China

Dear friends and families,

It’s been a while since I have made my last post on my site. I’ve been busy making sure that all my family members and friends were okay in Japan. Fortunately, my relatives and families reside in the western part of Japan and so everyone was okay. But this devastating earthquake which took tens of thousands of lives away will not only affect the North-eastern(Tohoku) part of Japan but the entire population of Japan and the interconnected world. The aftershocks continue at this very moment and Japan’s largest challenge to recovery will take time.

Living in China, I can feel that the Chinese population can relate to what Japan is going through at the moment as there was an earthquake in Yunnan last week and in Sichuan in 2008, which is still new in everyone’s memory. I was happy to see so many of my Chinese friends and colleagues ask me if my family and relatives were alright. I also saw a video from the Sichuan earthquake victim’s telling Japan to not give up. It left me in tears when I saw this. Everyday I am touched by the people who are praying and trying to make a difference to help Japan from around the world.

Here’s my heartwarming story from Beijing:
I walked out of my apartment to grab some breakfast this morning at the usual vendor who sells eggs and sausage for about 5RMB(about 0.75USD), prices went up from 3RMB about a week ago. I enjoy having a 1-2 minute conversation with him in Chinese since he’s curious about me and what I think about China. He knows that I’m from Japan and this morning he asked me if my family was alright and told me to never give up. He said he is originally from Sichuan and he lost a family member in the 2008 earthquake. “Times like this, we need each-other”. I was really touched by his simple remarks and gave me power to push on.

Living in China, it is hard for me to contribute directly and help with the relief efforts in Japan and I though that I could help by spreading the word on how everyone can help out right in your living room. It’s been 4 days after the earthquake but Japan is still in need of your help. At this very moment, the survivor’s of the earthquake at the evacuation centers are starving and are lacking warm clothes and blankets. Please make a small donation at the Red Cross’s website here.

I am also continuing to translate and interpret Japanese media and useful information on my twitter feed at @gokatayama. I will also be making daily posts on my thoughts and photos I took from Sendai and Fukushima in the following days from last year when I was in Japan.

#prayforjapan

Best,

Go Katayama
3/16/2011


[Photos] Port of Aburatsu (Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan)

What I enjoy most about going back to Japan is definitely the food but also the scenery along the pacific coast. I drove down to one of the famous ports in the south side of Japan in Miyazaki Prefecture: Aburatsu Port. Since these photos were taken on new years day you can see the ritual trees calling for a good year and colorful flags representing each of the boat’s name.


[Photos] Ageing Countryside in Japan

When most people think of Japan, they might think of the high-tech flashing lights all over the Tokyo metropolis. But my favorite scenery within Japan would have to be 800 kilometers west from Tokyo in the Chugoku region at the tip of the main island in Japan. What most people would consider the country side has recently become a victim of youths moving out to the larger cities like Osaka and Tokyo for better job opportunities and schooling while the elders keep aging. It is said that Tokyo now makes up one-tenth of Japan’s total population of 120 million. Where agriculture is strong on the country side, it is evident from words such from Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara that “Only 1.5% of Japan’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture and the nation should pay heed to the other 98.5%”. Hence, the country side of Japan has lost its spark, as population continues to decline everywhere but Tokyo and the larger cities. This city of Satosho currently has 30,000 residents and is continuing to decrease year after year.

A typical neighborhood in Okayama prefecture. Mirrors are used instead of traffic lights.

Roads winding down hill through the rice fields.

Rice fields neatly lined up getting ready for harvest season

Scenic view of Satosho and the rice fields at dawn

JR Sanyo Line train passes by. There are usually 3-4 trains an hour connecting Okayama and Hiroshima.

Even during the what should be a rush hour period not too many people are to be seen.


[Photo] Omikuji

I’ve been really behind on posting photos from when I was in Japan so I’m gonna be going back and forth between Japan and China photos this week. This one was taken on new years day in Japan or ‘Shogatsu'(正月) when I visited a local shrine for ‘Hatsumode’(初詣). Hatsumode is the first shrine visit of the new years in Japan where people make wishes for the year to come. Some shrines in Tokyo would have 3million visitors on new years and you could see people throwing coins at the shrine since it takes way too much time to get to the shrine itself. But the one I went to was a small local shrine in Miyazaki prefecture so the wait wasn’t that long. For hatsumode it is also common for people to buy a ‘omikuji'(御神籤), which has random fortunes written on strips of paper that gives you fortunes based on your love life, health, income stability, child-birth, and disputes resolution. For more information on omikuji click here. But if the omikuji that you happen to pick out of the many has a bad fortune, its tradition that you fold it up and leave it at the shrine. Also its said that its even better if you can tie onto a branch or a string one-handed.


[Photo] A New Day Has Come

It’s already been 9 days into the year 2011. I think that every culture has its own way of celebrating new years day but for my family, we try to see the first sunrise of the year as much as we can. So while in Japan I was able to get up early enough on new years day to catch the first sunrise of 2011 from the “country of the rising sun”. The picture doesn’t do justice but from Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan, the sun slowly showed its presence over the pacific ocean and signaled the start of a new year.


[Photo] Fukuyama, Japan

There’s a saying in Japan “haya oki wa san mon no toku” meaning “Waking early gets you three mon”, in other words “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” So this past break in Japan I tried to get up early enough so that I can capture the start of the day in Fukuyama city in Hiroshima Prefecture. Nothing special as you would see in the metropolis of Tokyo but it’s got a nice vibe to it.


[Photo] Tokyo Sky Tree

The new symbol of Japan is about to be completed in the heart of Tokyo’s Asakusa “shitamachi” area. Standing at 634 meters, the Tokyo sky tree will be the highest TV tower in Japan. Before, the Tokyo Tower was the symbol of the city standing at 333meters but with rapid economic development and high sky risers being built in Tokyo over the last 4o years, the old Tokyo tower had problems sending and receiving TV signals.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Reflections] Touring 3 Countries in 12 hours.

What a day. I woke up this morning in the sunny beaches of Guam and checked out of my hotel and headed for the airport. As the plane took off for my second country of the day, Japan, I could see the beautiful ocean surrounding the island of Guam. 3 hours later I arrived to Japan where I was faced with a tough decision to either stay in the Narita Inetrnational Airport for 8 hours before my connecting flight to Beijing or to head out of the airport for a couple of hours. As you may know, Narita International Airport is NOT located in Tokyo. In fact, it’s located in another prefecture: Chiba. A lot of people think that a short lay over in Narita Airport is enough time to check out downtown Tokyo but it takes at least a 2 hours roundtrip from the airport to the heart of Tokyo. The largest city surrounding the airport is Narita city  but again, there’s really not too much to do in this city. But since Narita International Airport Terminal 1 has even fewer options and things to do I decided to head out.
I’ve been in China for the last 6 months and so this was the first time back in Japan since I left. I noticed that there are much more Chinese tourists now in Japan than before. It’s always interesting to observe Japanese people and Chinese tourists visiting Japan interact with one another. The Japanese shopkeepers don’t speak English nor Chinese and the old Chinese man will continue to force his way through his thick Chinese accent. In short, the Japanese vendor tells him to write down which number he wants  but this message does not go through. They spend about 3 minutes just staring at each other and the old Chinese man is getting a bit annoyed and impatient. For the first time in his life no one understands him. I think these kinds of interactions are important no matter what for the future of these two neighboring states. The more Chinese people and Japanese people interact the better for the understanding. Today, I spent a total of 4 hours in Japan just observing these interactions and by the end of it I saw that both sides usually try to help each other to accomplish what they want. I headed back to Narita International Airport and hopped on a plane back to Beijing where pollution welcomed me back home. I still can’t believe I was on an island this morning watching the sunrise by the palm trees on th beach.

Two Lover's Point in Guam.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Beijing Restaurant Review] How Japanese Food is Perceived in Beijing

If you ever get a chance to visit China and look for Japanese food you would be surprised by the number of Japanese restaurants there are in the major tier-1 cities. You’d think because of the recent Sino-Japanese tensions, Chinese people would boycott Japanese food but as a general rule of thumb, it really has no effect. What I find most interesting through my stay in China over the years is that a majority of Japanese style restaurant owners in China don’t have any connections with Japan at all. I ask them what they think about Japan and the common response that I hear over and over is that they can sell Japanese food for a much more expensive price than Chinese food. This is because in China, consumers know that Japanese products are considered high quality and thus, much more expensive. In China you’ll see a Takoyaki restaurant with the name Hokkaido (北海道) or a ramen restaurant with the name Nagano (長野). In Japan, Hokkaido is not known for Takoyaki and Nagano is not known for ramen. But in China, Hokkaido is a rather popular tourist destination for the lavender fields and so a lot of people associate Hokkaido with random Japanese food for their marketing strategy to attract more customers.
In Beijing you can find anything from B-Class Gourmet, as they call in Japan as being ordinary but still tasty dishes like ramen, udon, dumplings to upscale venues providing sushi and sashimi imported directly from the Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market. You can enjoy a 130RMB (about $18USD) all you can eat and drink Japanese food or spend 15RMB ($2USD) on a bowl of Yoshinoya Beef Bowl. Some of the Japanese restaurant owners say that although they attract an abundance of Japanese customers from a pool of about 10,000 Japanese residents currently residing in Beijing, without attracting the Chinese consumers their business won’t last. So the Japanese food in China has a bit of a Chinese feel to it creating a brand new fusion.
From my view point, Beijing has adapted the idea of Japanese food as any foreign country would. Like in the US, when you think of Japanese food, sushi, sashimi, ramen and sake comes to mind. Beijing is exactly like that incorporating the exotic high class model into Japanese cuisine.  Most people here are surprised to find out that Japanese people don’t actually eat sushi at least once a week but only maybe once a month on a rather special occasion. But the fact of the matter is that in America, most middle income families can afford a night out at a high-end Japanese food restaurant but in China these restaurants market their food towards high class Chinese and expats so the majority of the population here in China doesn’t get to interact with Japanese food and culture at all.

At Kagen in Beijing, a American Style Japanese grill restaurant. Chinese chefs are busy preparing the Robatayaki.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Transportation] China has the Fastest Shinkansen (Bullet Train in Japanese)

I’m sure by now you’ve seen posts from all over the web saying that China has the fastest bullet train in the world,  running at a speed of  245mph compared to the 186mph Japanese Shinkansen, which previously was the fastest before China overtook the Shinkansen in 2008 with the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Railway. I had the opportunity to ride the Chinese Bullet Train from Beijing to Tianjin couple months ago and I must say I was extremely impressed.  From Beijing to Tianjin is about 117km in distance and it only took about 30minutes. The ride was comfortable as the Japanese Shinkansen, or even better and the interior was spacious enough to take a brief nap but again, 30 minutes wasn’t long enough for my nap.  The total cost one way was about 70rmb (about 10USD) for first class coach. With the record breaking traffic jams in Beijing, it’s nice to see more means of transportation being complete all around China.

The world’s first maglev also belongs to China running at  a max speed of 268mph connecting Shanghai Pudong International airport and the outskirts of central Shanghai. I finally had a chance to ride it couple weeks back and not only the speed but how comfortable it was really amazed me. Japan Railways announced recently that they will also be completing a maglev style bullet train with max speed of 312mph, aiming for commercial use in 2027, which is still a while away. But as an observer, it’s interesting to see how quickly China has caught up and passed Japan in this field. Considering 20 years ago, nobody could compete with the Japanese Bullet Trains in speed, efficiency, and safety.  For more comparision on comparative literature on high speed transportation, the Transport Politic did a great job analyzing “High Speed Rail in China”.

at Beijing South Subway Station waiting for the Bullet Train.

a Bullet Train is ready to leave Beijing towards Tianjin. It runs almost every 30minutes from Beijing South Railway Station

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Japan] 2/3 of Japanese White Collars Don’t Want to Go Abroad

I haven’t written too much about Japan on this blog yet but I was shocked to see this post from the WSJ today. As the title states, “Please Don’t Send Me Abroad. Ever”; this is kind of sad. We all know that globalization is inevitable. Every developing country that I have been to is implementing policies and using their resources to create a much more global state to compete with each other. Here in Beijing, and from my summer teaching experiences, every student dreams or already have gone abroad to say the least. The article states “According to a survey released today, a shocking two-thirds of the country’s white-collar workers said they didn’t want to work abroad…ever”. The reason for this is being that they are not confident with their English abilities and also they don’t think that foreign countries are safe. Being Japanese, I can completely see where this is coming from.

In Japan, students usually start studying Japanese at Jr High School level from ages 12 to 13. In neighboring countries such as China and Korea, the age at they start is much earlier. It’s recently that Japan’s Ministry of Education decided that Japan needed to conduct its’ English classes in English instead of in Japanese.

There’s been a dark cloud over Japan economically and politically these days as the country of the rising sun continues to decline as neighbors like China continue to progress.

I hope that major media sources in Japan cover this statistic so that people in Japan start to feel some sense of urgency to start becoming more global or the future will continue to be dark and Japan’s galapagosization from the international society is going to get worse.

Inside a JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Economics] China surpasses Japan in GDPQ2

This is oldnews and everyone knew that it was going to happen. But I guess its finally official now after on Monday, the Japanese government reported the official numbers. I think from all the readings I’ve done in the past week, this paragraph from Cornell Professor, Eswar Prasad sums it up very well:

There are virtually no historical parallels for a country that is so large and dominant in absolute terms and yet that lags far behind many other countries in terms of per capita income and other indicators of development. There is still a yawning gap in per capita income levels between China and the advanced economies and, even at present growth trajectories, it will take a generation for China to achieve the level of development of advanced economies.

But interesting enough it’s the same old Beijing and its not like people here are celebrating or anything.

View of Guomao from Shuangjing

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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[Photos] Top 5 Photos from Japan

Hey all,thank you for taking your time and visiting my site! As I leave for Beijing, China tomorrow I’m filled with excitement. I want to update this site as much as I can covering wide range of topics that include culture, linguistics, politics and music! Trust me they all come together somehow. But as I prepare for my big day tomorrow, I want to start off this site with some pictures I’ve took so far in Japan in the last 4 weeks that I’ve been back. After graduating from college I finally had the time to just hop on a train and travel within Japan just for the sake of traveling.

Well, here’s my top 5 Favs of June!

“My Grandma’s Old Shop”

During this break I traveled from Tokyo all the way to the southern part of Japan, Miyazaki Prefecture to see my grandma. She told me that she used to run a store, in Japanese called Ara-mono-ten, which sold goods like what you would see at a Crate and Barrel or a William Sonoma. Basic tools that a house wife would need back in the days. She said that this concept was still very new and she sold a lot! I got this throwback photo from my grandma's old photo album from the 1950s.

“Koi Fish at 5 Color Lake in Fukushima Prefecture”

This trip to Fukushima prefecture wasn't really planned but my friend wanted to go here so we decided to hit up the city of Kooriyama. I really don't recommend this city since when night falls, people seem to disappear and the only people on the streets were hookers and hostess bars. It' s quite rare to find a city like this in Japan nowadays. But since we wanted to see the famous 5 color lake in the outskirts of the city we decided to stay. After a couple of hours of taking the train and the local buses we ended up with straight up nature. The 5 color lake reminded me of the World heritage Site in China of Jiuzhaigou. The color of the lake was turquoise, as the sun light creates this magic. The one in China was a lot bigger in size but none of them had Koi Fishes in them! aha! None the less it was beautiful.

“Masamune Date’s Grave

It's not too often in the states to visit historically known individual's graves but in Japan I guess it's a pretty common thing to do. I visited Masamune Date's grave. Masamune Date was a great Japanese Samurai also known as "one-eyed dragon" for he was a tactician who won battles with one eye. This picture was taken around Masamune's grave. Masamune's grave itself was colorful and all but I really like the surrounding environment which gives out a really Japaneezy feel.

“Slam Dunk’s Author, Yasuhiko Inoue’s Exhibit in Sendai

This photo was taken outside the Yasuhiko Inoue exhibition in Sendai. If you guys know who he is you must've read the entire series of "Slam Dunk" and "Real". If you haven't I really recommend you go to Barnes and Noble now and get a copy because this guy is a world wide phenomenon. His art is unbelievable. I like it when art and the city come together in public.

“Don’t Mess with Hiroshima Carp Fans”

As the name of  this picture states, you really don’t want to mess with anything Hiroshima: food, people, chicks, etc.. well especially HIROSHIMA CARP FANS. After getting back to Tokyo I visited a friend over in Chiba prefecture. And what do you know? There’s a baseball game going on. Chiba Lotte Marines vs. Hiroshima Carp. Baseball in Japan is huge. Maybe more popular than soccer and sumo wrestling combined. Well anyways, these cheer leaders or fans or whatever they are, are crazy. In the states if one were to go to a game, one would grab a beer and buy some over price polish hot dogs and sit back and enjoy the game. But when you go to a Hiroshima Carp game, they make you cheer their way.. which usually is a combination of non-stop yelling and standing up and down. They have trumpets and cheers for every single player on the roster. This photo was taken from the outfield and the guys with the red outfits are the intense Carp fans drumming and trumpeting the hell out of the stadium. Fun times.