I have never really associated Japan with beer â€“ it has always been sake in my mind. However, come to think of it, Japanese beer is quite well known around Asia, and even in the Western parts. Thus, it should not be a surprise that they have their own version of a beer festival.
This year, there are three periods wherein people can participate in the Great Japan Beer Festival. The first one is over â€“ it was held from May 5 to 6 at the Ebisu Gerden Hall in Tokyo. The second one is being held right now (it started yesterday) at the Kyosera Dome in Osaka. The third one gives you more time to prepare as it is going to be held from September 6 to 7 at the Osanbashi Hall in Yokohama.
What can you expect at the Great Japan Beer Festival? Let me tell you, the Japanese know how to celebrate and when they do, they make it BIG. At the events of the Great Japan Beer Festival, participants are treated to more than 120 microbrews and craft beers â€“ all of these available for tasting! If you want to drown yourself in the finest beers available, you just have to pay the entrance fee.
Information for the Osaka festival:
Ticket at Enterance: 4,100 yen per person per day
Advanced tickets(date designated ticket): 3,600 yen per person per day
Ticket PIAã€€Pcode 612-254
For the Yokohama festival:
Ticket at Enterancet: 4,100 yen per person per day
Advanced tickets(date designated ticket): 3,600 yen per person per day
Ticket PIAã€€Pcode 612-433
Posted May 30th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Establishments that have themes are quite popular around the world but trust the Japanese to go all out when it comes to theme restaurants! Have you ever heard of Cosplay restaurants or maid cafes? These are theme restaurants which feature maids or butlers (the latter is dubbed butler cafÃ©, obviously) â€“ elegantly dressed.
Cosplay restaurants started in the Akihabara section of Tokyo around the year 2000. The idea behind these theme restaurants is for the maids or butlers to provide personalized service to the patrons â€“ service that one would get from a personal maid or butler at home. Though the Cosplay restaurants started in Tokyo, they have spread out to other Japanese cities and even other countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Mexico, and Canada!
A visitor to Japan should not miss the chance to have his or her own personal maid or butler at one of the Cosplay cafes â€“ especially if you cannot afford to have your own at home! Just to clear things up, though, there are definitely NO sexual overtones to the maids and butlers at these cafes. They are there to bring the most relaxing experience to their patrons and to provide them pampering and care while dining and drinking. Thatâ€™s it.
In certain cases, a customer can actually pay extra to have the maid or butler play cards and similar games with them or to have a picture taken. The time allowed for such activities are limited, though, and one would have to pay more for extra time â€“ marks of the good Japanese business sense!
Posted May 26th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (2)
It cannot be denied that there is a strong worldwide interest in the Japanese culture â€“ and most anything Japanese, in fact. At the same time, there are certain topics that are almost taboo â€“ and one of them is the war. There were many repercussions of what happened many decades ago and the topic is still quite sensitive in some sectors.
This piece of news that I read from The Japan Times seems to foretell a slight shift in ideas:
The government Friday declared null and void a 1949 state-imposed ban on public schools organizing field trips to Tokyo’s war-related Yasukuni Shrine.
The government clarified the point in reply to a query by Takeo Hiranuma, a nationalist ex-trade minister from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who is now an independent Lower House lawmaker.
Hiranuma, along with several LDP hawks, was involved in obscuring the international outcry over the wartime sex slave issue and blocking discussion on having a female head the Imperial family.
The government’s answer in a document the Cabinet endorsed Friday said, “It is permissible for schoolchildren to visit Yasukuni Shrine to learn about Japanese history and culture as part of school education. ”
The Shinto shrine in Chiyoda Ward honors Japan’s war dead, as well as convicted war criminals, who were dedicated at Yasukuni in the 1970s.
I am sure that this is a positive step toward acceptance and knowledge, especially for the younger generation.
Posted May 24th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Though the Japanese may not be as well known for sports as the Chinese are, they do have their own share of nationals who have played or are playing for famous teams in other countries. In the world of football, they have Shunsuke Nakamura, who is currently playing for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.
So why are we featuring Shunsuke Nakamura? We actually got wind of him through Patrick Brennanâ€™s e-mail (Thanks, Patrick!). To be honest, I have never heard of him before, so I did some research, and this is what I found on Wikipedia:
He is one of the most prominent and successful Asian players to have played in Europe and on 13 September 2006 became the first Japanese player to score in the Champions League and the second Asian player to do so.
He has won the Asian Cup in 2000 and 2004 with the Japanese national football team, and was named Most Valuable Player in the 2004 competition. He has also appeared in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship, and the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of the Japanese Under-23 team.
Apparently, his success has become a bitter pill to swallow for fans of their archrival team, the Rangers. They have started (and are continuing) a campaign, which I find particularly offensive due to its racist slant. I do not want to promote racism of any kind but perhaps, if we get the word out, we can stand up against this. The slogan that the Rangersâ€™ fans are using has something to do with the idea that people from Japan eat dog meat â€“ you can see a video on YouTube highlighting this.
It shouldn’t really matter, but just to set the record straight â€“ the Japanese in general do not eat dog. Oh the complexities of raceâ€¦
Posted May 21st, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
There are so many castles that are worth visiting if you ever go to Japan. Unfortunately, we cannot cover all of them, so letâ€™s just take a look at some of those that you should not miss.
Considered to be Japanâ€™s most awe-inspiring castle, the Himeji Castle should definitely be at the top of your list. This castle was never destroyed due to the wars of the past and the original structure still stands. The castle is, in fact, considered a National Treasure and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji is easily accessible from Kyoto.
The Matsumoto Castle is another destination that should not be missed. This castle is relatively complete and most of the original structure still stands. The Matsumoto Castle is built on a plain instead of a mountain or a hill and provides a spectacular view for visitors.
Though it has been reconstructed over the years, the Osaka Castle is still one of the best castles to visit. Within its walls, visitors can visit a museum that showcases the life of Toyotomi Hideoyoshi as well as the castleâ€™s history.
The Nijo Castle is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is also accessible from Kyoto. Though most of the original structure was destroyed by a fire, what remains is still something that should be experienced.
Posted May 19th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
This might be a no-brainer, but after reading the previous post on the existence of Japanese castles, didnâ€™t you become interested on how they came to be? Where did Japanese castles come from?
Just like most castles around the world, Japanese castles were brought about because of two main things. One, feudal lords were constantly engaged in battle with each other, resulting in the need for a safe haven. Two, feudal lords wanted to show off their wealth and power and having an extravagant abode was one of the ways to do so.
Actually, the first reason is perhaps the more compelling of the two. The need for strong defenses first arose in the Nara period, which was around 545-794. It was during this time that the feudal lords reached the peak of their fighting. As such, the primary reason for them to build castles was to fortify their dwelling places. Among the measures that they employed were to build moats and walls around their property, hoard food and supplies within the walls, and build towers in the center of the castle to be able to view the surrounding area where the enemy would be.
After the feuding eras, during the Meiji Restoration in particular, there was no need for strong defenses anymore. During this time, many feudal castles were destroyed â€“ either because of natural disasters or by the hands of men.
Today, there are still some of the original castles that remain standing. Many of them have been restored and are popular tourist destinations.
Posted May 18th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (4)
When one hears the word castles in the western context, we normally think of European buildings built in the medieval period. This is something that is totally cultural. Yet for someone from the east, perhaps a different vision pops into his mind when castles are mentioned. Indeed, the Japanese castles are quite different from their European counterparts but they are no less majestic and awe-inspiring.
I didnâ€™t realize that there are so many kinds of castles scattered all over Japan. I think that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg when I read a few articles on what Japan has to offer in terms of castles. One very interesting site that gives a lot of information on Japanese castles is The Castles of Kyushu. It is a very comprehensive site which is full of content that is a result of the personal experiences of the web site owner, Daniel Oâ€™Grady. I suggest that, if you want to learn more about the Japanese castles, you start with this web site.
There are countless resources that can be found all over the web, however, when it comes to Japanese castles. Now that my interest has been caught by this topic, I think I shall do a bit more of research myself. I encourage you to join me in this journey to discover Japanese castles in the next few posts.
Posted May 16th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Mascots have long been known to be one of the most effective forms of advertising. They seem to have a longer and stronger effect on the recall value of a product or service and many companies are utilizing mascots to benefit their advertising campaign. In Japan, even mascots come in quirky â€“ and sometimes controversial â€“ forms.
Take for instance this modern day Buddha boy, which is the mascot created for the 1,300th anniversary of the relocation of the old capital to Nara.
The little boy is obviously a representation of a young Buddha while the antlers are supposed to stand for the deer that the Nara Park is famous for. I donâ€™t think I have to explain why the mascot is creating quite a stir. For some people, the mascot is quite cute while for others, they feel that it disrespects Buddha. I will not even attempt to pass judgment here but in terms of attracting attention, however, I believe that it has more than achieved its goal.
How about the mascot Marimokkori, a character that is supposed to represent round green algae? He was created for Hokkaido.
Well, he is greenâ€¦and he looks roundâ€¦
What can you say about these unique Japanese mascots? Better yet, maybe you have some Japanese mascots of your own to share?
Posted May 14th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
Hats off to Honda for taking concrete steps towards environment-friendly cars. We all know, in theory, how cars of this kind can contribute a great deal to the preservation of the environment. The problem is that some sectors want nothing else but to keep status quo. Perhaps a corollary of this fact is that environment-friendly vehicles currently cost way much more than the conventional combustion engine cars.
It is thus good news that such a big name in the automotive industry seems committed to producing vehicles that are good for the environment and, hopefully, not too heavy on the pockets in the future. Japan Today gives a report on the newest hydrogen powered car from Honda:
Hondaâ€™s new hydrogen-powered vehicle, set for leasing within a few months, radically reduced the sizes of its fuel cell and motor for a superclean car with the same interior space as a regular car, engineers said Tuesday.
Thatâ€™s a vast improvement from the companyâ€™s first such model introduced nearly a decade ago. The fuel cell was so bulky that the car could barely seat one personâ€”and crept along at a snailâ€™s pace.
The new FCX Clarity reaches maximum speed of 160 kilometers an hour and comfortably seats four people.
â€œThis is the ultimate in cars,â€ said Sachito Fujimoto, a head engineer at Honda who oversaw the new fuel cellâ€™s development.
Clarity, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year, was shown to reporters at Honda Motor Coâ€™s Tokyo headquarters.
The garnet-colored, low-slung sporty sedan is set for leasing in California this summer at $600 a month, and in Japan this fall at a yet undisclosed price. Clarity is an improvement on Hondaâ€™s current fuel-cell vehicle, available for leasing in Japan and the U.S. starting in late 2002.
Sounds good to me.
Posted May 13th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (6)
Kodo is one of the major arts in Japanese culture. Though it may not be as widely known around the world as the tea ceremony or flower arrangement, it is just as important in their culture. In fact, according to tradition, any woman of good birth should learn kodo. In simple English, kodo is all about fragrant wood or incense. Though this art may not be as popular as the other two mentioned above, we can see similarities in the popular art called aromatherapy today.
So what is kodo all about? It is also called The Way of Incense and focuses on the use and appreciation of incense. For the uninformed, all incense might seem the same but there are, in fact, different kinds of incense. The important thing about this art is that it involves more than the art of smell. In fact, the Japanese place more importance in â€œlisteningâ€ to the incense â€“ that is, opening up your other senses as you inhale the scents of the incense.
According to tradition, the art of kodo has 10 physical and psychological benefits. These are:
1. Sharpens the senses
2. Purifies the mind and body
3. Removes mental or spiritual “pollutants” (kegare)
4. Promotes alertness
5. Heals feelings of loneliness
6. Creates a feeling of harmony even under stress
7. Even in abundance, is not overwhelming
8. Satisfies, even in small quantities
9. Does not decay even over centuries
10. Does no harm even if used every day
Posted May 13th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)