It’s a nice orderly line… Until the train arrives, then it’s every man for himself.
Oona McGee on the Japanese way of giving change:
This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.
John Ramirez loves Japan. He’s also a Disney storyboard artist. This is where things get interesting.
Some of these are really cool.
A picnic beneath the cherry blossoms is a great way to enjoy them.
I’m sure you all have read about the Kyushu earthquake by now. It was a pretty big one. One casualty of the quake was Kumamoto Castle. The roof and stone wall of the castle were damaged.
The Spoon & Tamago blog tells us this was by design:
The primary damages appears to be of the stone walls and tile roofing, which were dislodged and collapsed. The tile roofing, in particular, slide off the roof and fell to the ground, causing large plumes of smoke to rise and cause alarm. However, according to some, this was an entirely intentional mechanism of ancient Japanese architecture designed to protect structures from collapsing during earthquakes.
When they start to fall… that is the best time of the cherry blossoms.
A great little animation based on old photos.
On Sunday the idol group, whose name in English means Masked Girls and which is made up of 18 members in three separate teams, released a video titled “Kamen Joshi: Idol Magic for Trump M-A-G-A!” in which seven of the members sang and danced in an effort to “M-A-G-A,” or “make America great again.”
Well, that was interesting.
GQ’s Charlie Burton interviews Stephen Turnbull about ninjas:
“If the ninja have any basis in fact, the following three criteria must be satisfied,” says Turnbull. “One, that a unique corpus of military techniques involving secrecy existed in Japan during the Sengoku Period [c. 1487 – 1603]. Two, that the exercise of these techniques was confined to certain skilled individuals rather than being spread more widely within Japanese society. And three, these skilled practitioners were identified in particular with [the areas] Iga and Kōka, from where they sold their services to others.”
The title of the piece is a bit misleading. It isn’t examining whether ninjas exist currently, but whether they ever existed.
It’s the best time of year to take a walk.
What is really amazing to me when I look at this data is that in 1970 the average price was ¥66,566 ($609 at the current exchange rate), but in 1980 that had jumped to ¥208,054 ($1904). That is a huge increase and shows you how the bubble economy affected prices. Since 1980 the price has only increased moderately, to ¥288,547 ($2640) last year.
From Nippon.com, a brief look at some of the most popular types of bread snacks in Japan.
Japan was once inextricably associated with rice, but bread—known as pan, from the Portuguese word pão—has caught on in a big way. Today small bakeries can be found just about everywhere you turn.
That isn’t hyperbole. There are three bakeries just a block from my home and dozens more within walking distance. There are more bakeries in any Japanese city I’ve visited than in my hometown in America. Japan loves bread more than one unfamiliar with the country might assume.
A fantastic video from Vincent Urban:
This film is a collection of audiovisual moments and memories of a 3-week railway journey through Japan in 2015. We were whizzing through the country with the Shinkansen visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto as well as lots of wonderful little places along the way, meeting the most friendly people and experiencing a culture that somehow balances its rich tradition with a very futuristic present.
The cherry blossoms have arrived for 2016 and everyone is out enjoying them.
Michael Leggart was confident heading from his Shinagawa hotel to Shinjuku Station that he would be able to find his desired exit with a cutting edge GPS tracking device and several maps of Tokyo.
Neraly three months later Leggart has yet to find his destination and is barely surviving on onigiri bought with his last yen and any wild fruits he can find growing in the less frequented parts of the station.
It’s a big and confusing station.