Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Pulsations 9.25.14

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Here’s a new batch of Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order . . .

Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Cute Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Olaf, Pokémon, Iconic Cartoon Characters(from ufunk): Do you really have the heart to eat these cuties?

The Cicada’s Song: Japan’s Summer Soundtrack (from Tofugu): Whether you hate them or love them, it’s not summer in Japan without the symphony of semi.

Top 10 tricks for cheap traveling in Japan(from kirai): There’s no need to spend all your savings during a trip to Japan (or what’s left of them after you’ve paid for the flight).

rooms 29 – September 2014 (from Japanese Streets): Care to be impressed by home-grown do-it-yourself creativity? Then scroll these photo highlights from the recent “rooms” event in Harajuku.

Saying goodbye to the buddha of the Yakuza (from Japan Subculture Research Center): Investigative journalist Jake Adelstein says, “even amongst the yakuza, there are some good people – in their own way.”

Visual Pulse

In his recent masterpiece, “Cooking ramen with yarn,” YouTuber and super-knitter betibettin shows us how to knit yourself a tasty-looking bowl of ramen.

In previous videos showcasing his craftsmanship, you can see how he creates objects such as teddy bears, umbrella handle covers and, um, fake boobs.

 

Pulsations (12.14.12)

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • Tips & tricks for the game centre, or: the spoils of war (from Tiny Plastic Food): Hate walking away from UFO catchers empty-handed? This self-described blonde, Japanese-speaking game-center addict tells us which game centers (at what time) are most likely to give up the goods — and how to know when to just walk away.
  • A is for Advertising, Part Two (from Vivian in Japan): Blogger Vivian collects posters and scenes around town that make us do a double take. And in Japan, there is a lot of stuff that makes us look again. And again. Also check out part one.
  • Kanji, Kanji Everywhere (from J-List Side Blog): The kanji of the year is out — it is kin, Japanese for gold. Know what is currently the most popular name for a girl? Hint: at present, every other anime seems to have a character with that name.

Visual Pulse

This HDR time-lapse video of Tokyo is perfect for reflecting on city life with a beer in hand. It’s easy to become self-absorbed in this fast-paced society and to forget that things will always continue to keep going, with or without us.

 

New Japanese tourists: have social network, will travel

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Users post original ideas for adventurous holidays on Trippeace to find new traveling companions

Fancy learning how to ride an elephant in Laos? How about shouting your New Year’s dreams from the top of Ayer’s Rock in Australia? Trippeace, a “social travel service,” is helping a new generation of Japanese travelers make their wildest vacation dreams a reality. Since its launch in August last year, the site has picked up over 20,000 members, over a thousand of whom have taken part in group vacations.

The project is the brainchild of Ian Ishida, a 22-year-old university student, and the idea is to enable young Japanese to experience a different kind of vacation. Members post ideas for a holiday and via Facebook, Twitter or Google+, they can discuss the details with other interested parties. Once a concrete travel plan has been made, Trippeace acts as a travel agent, making all the travel arrangements for participants. With a 10 percent commission on these arrangements, according to an article in Nikkei Trendy, Trippeace had made ¥200,000,000 by June this year.

It’s a remarkable achievement, seeing as this generation of young Japanese is much less adventurous when it comes to traveling abroad than the previous generation. Immigration statistics compiled by the Ministry of Justice show that overseas travel by young Japanese has fallen significantly from a peak in the mid-’90s.

Ishida isn’t the only one to come up with this concept. A similar service called Grvel was launched in December 2011. The name is pronounced “guruvelu,” a mash-up of “group travel.” But although Grvel made a selling point of offering group discounts to users who got together for a proposed trip, the lack of recent activity on the site seems to suggest that the scheme isn’t taking off in the same way as Trippeace. For those who want to cut out the middleman and book trips themselves, Taviko, a service that has been running since 2011, focuses on helping users find fellow travelers for whatever destination they have in mind via Facebook and Twitter. But again, it hasn’t seen anything like the level of traffic as Trippeace.

Canny marketing seems to have contributed a great deal to Trippeace’s success and the website is currently offering to pay the travel expenses of the first group to recruit 100 participants for a trip idea. Ishida is hoping this helps get 100,000 people registered for the service by October this year, with a view to possibly taking the service global in the future.

Take the kids back in time this summer

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Lunch at Ubusuna House, part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. (Rebecca Milner photo)

Last week, NHK ran a story on a “Showa Lifestyle” exhibition at a shopping center in Mito, a city two hours northeast of Tokyo. The exhibit wasn’t aimed at baby-boomers — Showa refers to the historical period from 1926-1989 — but rather their children and grandchildren.

The Mito City Museum, which put on the event, set up a mock living room circa the 1960s. Here kids could experience sitting at a low table on floor cushions, turning the dials on a black-and-white TV, many of them likely for the first time. They could also see what it was like to use an old rotary phone, a foot-pedal sewing machine and even a few pairs of take-uma, bamboo stilts, a popular amusement from an era of few luxuries.

For kids weaned on mobile phones, there may be no greater novelty than the past. They can also get an inkling of how different their world is from that of previous generations.

While the Mito event has already ended, there are plenty of other places where the family can get a taste of Showa life. At this summer’s Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, in rural Niigata prefecture, visitors can eat and sleep inside country homes and schoolhouses dating from the early to mid-20th century.

Many such structures outside of cities around Japan have lost their original usefulness on account of the country’s aging population and lack of attractive job opportunities there for young people. Countless such sites have been lost forever; however, there is a growing trend to label them heritage buildings and turn them into museums or hands-on learning centers.

Continue reading about the Showa nostalgia kick →

Today’s J-blip: Japanese are traveling where?

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Angkor Wat, the No. 1 travel destination for Japanese, according to a recent poll

Trip Advisor polled its Japanese users on their favorite overseas holiday destinations — and the results are not what you might expect. Sure, perennial favorites like Lanikai Beach, Hawaii (#3) and Florida’s Walt Disney World (#4) make the top five, but they rank below more exotic locals like Angkor Wat (#1) and Machu Picchu (#2). And while western Europe gets plenty of nods, so does eastern Europe. Destinations in Asia and the Middle East, along with some oddly specific locales — like Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory and Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium — all make the top 50.

Are Japanese tourists getting more adventurous? Taking advantage of the strong yen? Are the survey results naturally skewed? What do you think?

Photo by cornstaruk/Flickr

Rickshaws roll back into style

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Handsome “onisan” are part of the attraction of a jinrikisha ride for the ladies

Slightly cheesy and very pricey, a ride in a jinrikisha (hand-pulled rickshaw) around Asakusa is Tokyo’s equivalent of a spin around New York’s Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage. And thanks to the opening nearby of Skytree Tower, this anachronism is still fighting fit in the 21st century as jinrikisha companies cash in on the hordes of tourists who flock to Asakusa to check out Tokyo’s newest landmark.

Skytree Tower tours don’t come cheap. A 70-minute Skytree Tower Course with Kurumaya Asakusa, which takes you from Kaminarimon in Asakusa through the streets of downtown Tokyo, costs ¥12,690 for two. That price rises to ¥18,000 if you opt to travel in a rickshaw that has been custom-made to resemble the tower itself. The newly unveiled Tokyo Skytree Model lights up at night and comes complete with a tiny Skytree Tower at the back.

The surrounding scenery is not the only attraction of a jinrikisha ride. Many women also enjoy checking out the hunks whose job it is to cart customers around town. On April 4, a show on Nippon Television Network introduced the ikemen  jinrikisha oniisan (good-looking jinrikisha guys) who are admired by female visitors to Asakusa for their fit bodies. These companies obviously know that their stables of young men are all part of the attraction; the websites of Ebisuya Asakusa and Jidaiya jinrikisha companies both have profiles of these charismatic rikshaw pullers, called shafu, for potential customers to check out.

Back in the Showa Era, the jinrikisha was not the only form of transport available for sightseeing around Asakusa. Elegant pedicabs, called rintaku, as a short form for “wheel taxi,” were also pedaled along the streets. Those interested in the history of transport in Tokyo can check out a collection of latter-day carriages in the lobby of the Asakusa Central Hotel. The vehicles are kept in working order and are available for hire for special occasions. The site says that in 1947 a ride was ¥100 per hour. A wedding rental now can cost 100 times that, at ¥30,000 for three hours.

Just can’t get enough? We suspect Kurumaya’s sales target is jinrikisha companies, but we don’t know if there’s anything stopping them from selling their two-wheelers to the general public. The Skytree model three-seater is a trifle at ¥2 million. And no, that does not include a handsome driver.

Photo: Jon Rawlinson, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Pulsations (06.23.12)

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • How to Spend 3 Nights in Tokyo All Included on ¥10,000 ($US125) (from Tokyo Cheapo): While some tourists in Japan spend at least ¥10,000 a night for a hotel alone, others prefer to spend the same amount for their entire stay in Japan. Impossible? Well, these guys claim they have a plan for spending three days in Tokyo for just ¥10,000, everything included!
  • 1929 Japanese animation “Kobu tori” (from Japan Sugoi): Here is your chance to see the 1929 Japanese anime “Kobutori” by Chozo Aoji and Yasuji Murata. It is a 10-minute piece featuring two old men with large lumps, the “kobu” in the title, on their faces. They encounter similar situations, but one has a good temper while the other has an evil one.
  • Pots made from radioactive soil collected from within the Fukushima exclusion zone (from Spoon & Tamago): That’s the fascinating but radioactive idea Hilda Hellström had for her senior thesis show at the U.K.’s Royal College of Art. The project indeed is historical as the artifacts will always remind us of the most serious nuclear disaster in human history.
  • Lesbian invisibility in Japan (from Japan culture blog): Lesbianism is not as widely discussed as male homosexuality in Japan, where women are expected to be primarily good wives and wise mothers. Ramona Naicker explains how three decades ago, plenty of lesbian activist groups emerged seeking change but were forced to shut down due to lack of support.
  • Why Do Japanese People Wear Surgical Masks? (from Tofugu): I have been asked several times why so many Japanese people wear masks in public spaces. I did not know how to answer this question until I stumbled upon this post on Tofogu. Find out if you should be wearing one, too.

A former Australian rugby captain puts his unique skills to use on a rush-hour Tokyo train.

Danshikai: deals for dudes’ night out

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Following on the success of the joshikai trend, which saw pubs and hotels offering discounts to all-female groups, the service industry has been setting its sights on repeating the same thing for men with their promotion of danshikai — all-male get-togethers. According to Money Zine, a number of hotels and izakaya (pubs) are now offering special danshikai deals.

Ryofukuen in Izu is offering beauty treatments ... to groups of guys.

Currently on restaurant database site Guru Navi, there are 117 establishments offering special packages to men-only groups. A closer look, though, reveals that the danshikai offers, which are often all-you-can-drink deals, are simply repackaged joshikai campaigns. Seeing as all-male groups have been frequenting izakaya since time immemorial, it’s hard to see danshikai as being anything other than the standard lad’s night out … only cheaper.

But what about a weekend away with the guys? Will the joshikai-vacation formula work for men? Is the average Japanese male keen to bunk up with his buddies? Well, if  he is, there are 40 offers from hotels and ryokan available on trip-planning site Rakuten Travel.

Most danshikai campaigns amount to a night’s lodging at a cheap rate, but with a few extras thrown in. At Daitokan in Ito Onsen, for instance, it costs just ¥5,000 per person per night (for a group of four or more), and this price includes a free “danshikai map” of the area. Ryokufuen in Izu provides a men’s beauty treatment as part of their plan.

Sweets plans have also surfaced. Last year the danshikai plan at The Hilton Odawara Resort & Spa offered a choice of nomihodai (all you can drink), tabehodai (all you can eat) and a “sweets plan” (all the cake you can eat) … and according to Money Zine, the sweets plan proved to be a hit.

Is this a sign of the herbivorous times? The link has yet to be made, but whatever the case may be,  if there are indeed large groups of men out there hankering for beauty treatments and all-you-can-eat-cake pig-outs, their needs will be indulged, at a discount.

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