Category: Culture

23 Apr

One Kyuushuu – Kyuushuu Shinkansen

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Shinkansen runs through Kyuushuu finally!

People were very excited, so was JR. BUT… a day before the opening, a big chaos happened in Japan, up north.

The earthquake.

JR Kyuushuu no longer could celebrate this officially, however they started running.

And this is the advs. Very colourful and cheerful. I don't think they made this to cheer up Touhoku, it was just pure excitement and I think that's why I like it.

tafel anatomieKyuushuu is the last island of four main islands of Japan. It's the place where christianity first arrived, therefore, the first foreigner arrived. Nagasaki was the only place the merchants from Spain, Portugal and Holland could enter. It was the melted pot in Japan at that time. Tafel Anatomie (Ontleedkundige Tafelen in Duch) was brought in to Nagasaki and translated by a Japanese doctor, Genpaku Sugita (杉田玄白) and a Dutch scholar, Ryoutaku Maeno (前野良沢).

I've only visited a little of Nagasaki and Fukuoka. In Nagasaki,  there were tram cars running across the city, the houses built on the steeps had terracotta roofs, which I didn't feel like I was in Japan unless they spoke.

In Kyuushuu, there are many Christians after the long battle. Actually I had a classmate from Kagoshima in university who was baptized Catholic. For me it sounded peculiar a Japanese who was born to be Christian, but if you think about the history, it's understandable.

hakata raamenI like to go back to Nagasaki, I like to eat Tonkotsu Raamen (とんこつラーメン) at stalls in Hakata in Fukuoka. I lke to visit my friend's grave again in Oomuta in Fokuoka prefecture.

This adv, somehow gives me an energy. I don't know who they are and I don't think they are all actors. They simply must be happy for this Kyuushuu Shinkansen. "One Kyuushuu"




There is a back story of this adv. When they finished making it, it was a film of more than two hours. Of course, they must've wanted to show all Kyuushuu and it's big. Then they cut here, cut there and reduced to 3 to 4 minutes. Still long for one adv though. So another selection was done and finally they made one minute adv.

However, they couldn't get rid of the rest. There are many versions available in Youtube. This is a 3 minutes version, Shinkansen starts from Kagoshima then going up to Fukuoka. It shows small villages, little towns, bigger cities, industories, farm and tall buildings.

I like to see the active volcano, Sakurajima in Kagoshima. I heard in Kumamoto, roof tile shokunin earn a lot as typhoons pass by Kumamoto so often. There are many spots related to Japanese old mythology in Miyazaki.

I don't know much about Kyuushuu.

Let's go to Kyuushuu.



Happy Easter and Feliz Semana Santa.



More about Japanese trains

Shinkansen, 50 year anniversary

Footbath in Shinkansen -Toreiyu-

16 Apr

Think About Shitamachi Joucho

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Just like London has East End, Tokyo has "Shitamachi" (下町), and just like East Enders speak cockney, Shitamachikko (下町っ子)speak Shitamachi-ben (下町弁) which in other word, "Beranmee-chou" (べらんめえ調).

According to my father´s theory, Edokko (江戸っ子) is not someone who was born in Tokyo but is the family which has been in Tokyo more than three generations. I was born in Tokyo, my father was born in Tokyo, his parents were born in Tokyo and their partens were born in Tokyo…. so in theory I´m pure Edokko. This doesn´t mean I speak beranmee-cho though.

Tokyo is well known as a modern city. On one hand we seek new things, buying new mobile each several month and change cars every three years but on the other hand we feel ourselves comfortable surrounded by old traditional things.

Inside of Tokyo, the place where preserves old style of life is Shitamachi, the eastern part of Tokyo, where you can still see small old houses, small shops and delis in the neighbourhood from their grandparents´ era.

People like to take a walk in Shitamachi. I think it´s because it makes us feel home. The word, Jousho (joucho/情緒) is used for something that has its original taste and makes us feel certain type of feeling, or is an actual feeling arises along with a certain matter.

For example people like walking around Shitamachi because it has own taste, character, feeling and atomosphere which you can't see in any other places. And in this case, we say "Shitamachi has joucho.

japanese old house


In the East End of Tokyo, you can still see these old houses. Unfortunately, there is no one living in this house but it seemed like someone was looking after the plants and they were quite green and happy.





Some of old houses even have gargoyles (Onigawara). I don't see much of these nowadays in Tokyo. The house I grew up was about 35 years old and even that house didn't have Onigawara.

If you live in Europe, you might laugh at "35 year-old old house". But these houses are made of wood, not concrete.

In our kitchen, we found many times a march of ants coming in directly from outside through the gap between the back door.


And these old houses have this type of old lamp. Just like Ozu film.lamp








Other things give us Joucho are these ones.

On the left is a little fish called Medaka (killifish), especially in this porcelain fish tank and balls increase the sence of nostalgia.

On the right is a Shishi-odoshi, a sort of water system that we enjoy the sound of the bamboo hitting the edge of the stone. It was originally used in the rice fields to scar away animals but now it's used as an accent of the garden. We enjoy both sound of the water running and of the bamboo. The clear sound, especially in summer, gives us a little breeze and chill, then cleanse our soul.  


It's easier to explain if you listen to it. Just close your eyes and think about Japanese garden.



cleaning shop


Another thing I like about Shitamachi is there are still small individual shops exist in the neighbourhood. People buy fruits in a local fruit shop, buy fish in a local fishmongers' and the owner of a local landry comes to your house to ask if you have anything to clean.

When I was little, the owner of a local electrical store would come to fix things in our house. When he got married, my parents gave him a present. When he had a baby, they gave him present too. When he went for holiday to his island (he was from a little island of Okinawa), he would come to our place with little souvenir.


oden ya 2

This is a Japanese deli shop selling Oden (おでん). This is actually a shop making and selling steamed fish paste and it's often used as an ingredient for Oden.

It must've been here for years and years, and usually this is a family business for generations. Naturally, they know all neighbourhoods and all neighbourhoods know them.

Then what happens?

oden ya

People come to buy some Oden and start chatting with Okami san (usually the wife of the owner). 

I'm sure this woman, too saying like,

'Did you know that the brother-in-law of the book shop owner was suffering from hernia and had an operation last week."

Like usual stuff….

This used to be seen in everywhere but now new franchise supermarkets are introduced in many neighbourhood. People tend to go there for convenience but instead we are loosing human contact.

After being customed to a plastic packed apples, conveyor belt at the till and the sound of reading the barcode, we sort of start missing how it used to be back then.

So we go to Shitamachi to seek joucho of old Tokyo. Could you feel it a little?

By the way, the place I went for walk was Kita-Senju (北千住).

15 Apr

Japanese Advs – Touch Wood (Mobile)

Juju Kurihara 2 Comments

First, just look and listen to this video.




It's a beautiful image and the sound. When it reaches this level, the word is no longer needed. In the last few days, I've been listening to this repeatedly. Just magnificent.

This is an ad for a new mobile phone "Touch Wood  SH-08C" that Japanese mobile company, NTT Docomo was going to release in early March this year but with some problems they have in Japan, it had been on hold. But it seems like finally this is available in Docomo shops since the 6th of April.

touch wood


This is a very organic bean shaped mobile which is made of hinoki tree.

Hinoki grows only in Japan, used for houses, furniture, ships or even sculptures. It has a special aroma and Japanese people like the smell of hinoki.




touchwood screen



The design is very simple, it only has tree buttons for "talk", "lock" and "hang up".

The way sits in the hand is so beautiful.





touchwood screen 2


With one touch, shortcut menu will show up.

It does look like those high-tech phones (we call smart phone in Japan) but it's not unfortunately.


This Touch Wood, you can change the setting depending on which hand user you are. Amazing.



Touch Wood is not iPhone nor Android, yet it costs 77,910 yen (about 647€) at the shop. Hmm, I think I prefer getting my offer of Black Berry Curve, perhaps… Oh, but it's so beautiful, isn't it?

14 Apr

Shouyu Soda

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Today, I found this new Japanese soft drink, Shouyu Saidaa (soy source soda). In the west of Japan, in between Honshu (the biggest island) and Shikoku (the smallest of four main islands of Japan), there is a little island called Shodo Shima (小豆島). This island apparently produces good soy source (shouyu/ 醤油or正油) and now one of shouyu company has made soda with soy source.

13 Apr

What’s This For? – Paper Eyelashes

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

art eyelashJapanese girls' one of the obsessions is the make-up. I haven't seen girls do so well in any other nationalities yet. Oh, no offence, perhaps different type of make-up, I suppose.

When I was in the high school, many girls were obsessed about double-edged eyelid and longer eyelashes. There was a special glue to stick your eyelids and girls came into the classroom with their eyes wide open, which reminded me a lot of one torture scene in a film, "A Clockwork Orange". And that, doesn't seem to have changed at all.

This arty eyelashes "PAPERSELF" have launched in Japan. They are water-proof fake eyelashes which design is based on Chinese traditional paper craft.


There are many designs, such as flower, butterfly or peacock, in total 11 designs are available. 


peacockThis is for upper eyelashes in peacock shape. Although it's made of paper, it can be used for 3-5 times.

Paperself was already appeared in many popular magazines in Japan, and some TV idels are also talking about it. This seems like one of those "KAWAII" (かわいい!/ Cute!) items now.




If it's a trend, they have to try. This girl has tried the one just for the corner of the eyes. Eh huh. not bad, not so flashy.


How is it closer look?

girl 2




As she says, it works for the party or some special occasions. I agree.

But it's OK, it doens't look so silly.





If girls try it, of course boys try it too.

One, two, three,





candie candie


Many people have seen this, right? yes, Candie Candie.

I was really surprised an Italian girl started singing to me when we met in a party. Later, I'd found out that quite many, at least European girls watched Candie Candie when they were little, and even remember the story much more than me. Well, I don't at all, it wasn't my cup of tea. 

Anyway, look at her. She's a typical Japanese anime character. People often ask me why Japanese cartoon characters have such ginormous eyes.

Hmm, good point.

tokyo alice

This is a recent comic and still has the same style.

My hair stylist used to ask me why I didn't want to dye my hair every time I went to cut my hair.

I always answered "because everyone dyes hair".

To be blonde, curly hair and have long eyelashes still seem to be a big concern and obsession for Japanese girls and some boys. Will we see many Japanese girls with Paperself now and then on the street?



More Japanese designs

Drawing water

Plastic umbrellas

Japanese tattoos

Designer Akiko McQuerrey

Japanese matchboxes designs

Shinkansen 50th Anniversary

Nakagin Capsule Tower

11 Apr

A Month from the Earthquake and Japan Today

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

11th of March at 14:46, a huge earthquake shock Northeast and Kanto area in Japan. It was magnitude 8.9, big enough for even Japanese people who are used to quakes.


NHKToday, a month after the quake, at 14:46, Japan have fallen a minute of silence. Some TV stations stopped the program and observed a one-minute silence but some stations continued the program. I wanted to put a video too, but doesn't seem like anyone put it up yet. NHK put it.





Nihon Terebi (Nihon TV) put it.






Even the specialist of entertainment, Fuji TV put it.






TBS was one of those which continued normal program. They put this TV drama for housewives.

I wonder how many housewives in Japan preferred to watch TV drama rather than a minute of silence at the moment.


This is from BBC which shows a little bit of the day and how people have spent the day in Japan


This is a video shot by a local man in Ootsu port in Ibaraki prefecture. Ootsu port was a leading port of sardine in Japan. Now the fishermen sail ships that survived from tsunami and fish in Chiba. However since they detected the high level of radioactivity in the sardines from the offring of Ibaraki, no one tends to deal with fishermen from Ibaraki. Fishermen without their ships and ocern to fish, how can they live?



A month after the earthquake, the number of after shocks has been getting less. At least that what people thought then around 17hrs today, there was a magnitude 7 of after shock happened near Fukushima.

This video was taken by a guy who lives in Iwanuma city in Miyagi prefecture. It was recorded level 6 of quake.



On the 11th of April, the death toll has grown to 13,130 and the number of missing people are 13,718. 

A few days ago, the government annouced that for each death or missing they will pay about 350,000 yen (about 2,863€) to the family as a compensation. The money will help them in a way but the family they have lost will never come back.

10 Apr

Jo and Lupin III too, Support Japan

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

More manga writers are participating the charity for the Touhoku region and the victims from this disaster.

cardsI can see Ram chan from Urusei Yatsura, Ranma1/2 and Kin-niku Man. Old anime characters have revived to save Japan.

tetsuya chibaThis project started by Tetsuya Chiba, the creator of Jo Yabuki in Ashita no Jo. He has called for anime writers in Japan and until now, about 50 authors have participated and more than 100 works have been sent to Chiba. All illustrations are drawn especially for this projects.




This is Ashita no Jo. I used to watch it after school and I swear, it´s much better than Rocky!




Kin-niku Man is a wrestler who loves gyu-don. I remember sometimes he sang gyu-don song on the ring. Although it was about fighting, some how it was comical. This was on way before Dragon Ball started in Japan.



And Lupin III, my favorite Lupin!! I was quite jealous when I saw a girl in the swimming pool had a kick board with Daisuke Jigen on it. I wanted one with Goemon



All these works will be sold in a manga fair, Digital Manga Koushien which is held in late May in Utsunomiya city, Tochigi prefecture. Also they are available on the net auction.

The sales will be sent to the devastated area as donation.



08 Apr

Useful Goods For a State of Emergency

Juju Kurihara 0 Comments


In the most of Japanese houses, you may see this bag. Even they aren't visible, they are somewhere in the house. In my parents house, there were at least three of these in the shed at the back of the house.

This is an "emergency bag" (hijou bukuro/ 非常袋), made of some fire-proof material.



bousai pack

Inside this bag, there are essential goods such as bottles of water, first-aid kit, torch and some food that you can eat without cooking. 

These are basic stuff. I remember every year, my father brought these bags out, checked the expire date, then changed to the new bottles or packets.

I quite liked that day as he usually gave me a tin of biscuits that nearly expired or already did a few weeks ago. I was a strange feeling to eat those emergency food in a tube or in sealed packets.



emergency goods

  This shows what to stuff in your emergency bag.

It's possible your evacuation takes longer than you expect and have to live in the shelter without any supplies, which it happened to the shelters in Touhoku region.

There are wet tissues and a bottle of shampoo which you can wash your hair without any water. People were complain about unhygienic life style in the shelter, as it took so long to arrive esseintial supplies including water.


malti life hammer

There are people who are trying to invent new thing every day. And of course, there are people who are inventing useful emergency goods.

This is one of those called "Super Multi Life Hammer". With the word, "super", this sounds like a must item.

This hammer has 8 functions; 1) torch, 2) hammer for breaking car glass, 3) seat belt cutter, 4) AM/FM radio, 5) signal light that blinks, 6) mobile charger (japanese mobile), 7) manual generator and the last, it also functions with AAA battery.

I guess this is mede as a car goods but it might be useful.


smoke hood

Another product that caught my eye was this. This is a smoke hood invented by SBK.

This company seems like they are specialised in emergency goods and have some curious things, basic but logic. Just like an experiment we used to do at school.

This is a great hood which you can escape from the smoke with your eyes open and can keep breathing.

It can keep the air enough to breathe for 3 minutes if you run and for 5 minutes if you walk. Heat-resistance up to 150 ºC.

It may look a little too comical but must be very useful item to have. Only thing yoou need to be careful about it, you'll get a big head and might have a problem walking through a small space when you escape. You better have a little practice. 

So now, have you diceided what to stuff in your emergency bag?