All posts by blogsonjapan

dim-sum and dragons


Homogeneity is often associated with Japanese society, rightly so with ethnic Japanese making up 99% of the population and the cultural tendency to embrace collectivism rather than individuality. However, just as more and more youth strive to stand out rather than fit in, that non-native 1% works to make their adopted land comfortable for them instead of forcing themselves to assimilate. You will find many foreign dining establishments manned by people of that extraction, many of them halal, and hear any number of tongues mixing in with Japanese, their speakers sometimes switching between the two. In terms of representation (not accommodation, that’s entirely different), English speakers are a minority, dwarfed by Chinese, Korean, and many others. A classmate even told me that housing agencies frequently place members of the same ethnicity in the same area of Tokyo, generalizing and sticking all foreigners together the secondary method followed by dropping them off in all-Japanese neighborhoods. This classmate was surprised when she arrived in her first apartment to a slew of welcome notes written in Chinese and a stand on the corner selling dumplings she termed “the only decent ones in this entire country.” Of course tensions between natives, permanent residents, and tourists (especially tourists), but exchange generally has more pros than cons. See: Crepes from France! Curry from India! K-pop from Korea that in turn spawned J-pop while remaining popular itself! And many more imports I’ve enjoyed thus far. One example the outside making a place for itself inside Japan permanently is Yokohama Chinatown.

I was lucky enough to be able to make the trip out to Chinatown, in the far reaches of Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa but still accessible by the same metro line I commute on, during the Lunar New Year celebrations. Torrents of people traversed a network of …continue reading


Turning the rising tide of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia

Author: Sharyn Graham Davies, Auckland University of Technology

On 27 January 2018, police in Aceh, Indonesia arrested 12 transwomen and forcibly cut their hair in public. The arrests were the result of a raid on five beauty salons owned and operated by transwomen. The North Aceh police chief declared that Islam is against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people and that the ‘disease’ of LGBT must be eliminated.

Indonesian Muslim children walk past a banner reading ‘Indonesia LGBT Emergency’ in front a mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 January 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

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While Aceh is unique in Indonesia in that it is the only province to criminalise same-sex relationships, public displays of anti-LGBT sentiment are becoming more common across the archipelago. There were several mass arrests of LGBT citizens in Jakarta last year, and there is continued debate about whether homosexuality should be criminalised despite such a proposal having been rejected by the Constitutional Court in December 2017. How should this growing visibility of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia best be understood?

The answer is not clear-cut and involves a number of interacting factors.

First, there are increasing levels of Islamic piety throughout the country and greater attention is being paid to fundamentalist voices. A number of ulama (Islamic religious leaders) are calling for LGBT individuals to be forcibly re-educated and made to conform to heteronormative (male–female) models. …continue reading


NAMBA Walk Spring Feast Coupons 2018


In the Namba underground world of gourmets, the “Spring Feast Coupons” loaded with great deals is very useful.
Find a store you want to go and a menu you want to eat and just present a coupon.
Let’s enjoy eating around delicious gourmet foods with great deals at Namba Walk.
Valid period: March 1,– April 30, 2018
※The period differs in some stores, so please check the validity for each stores.
The mobile coupons which can be used by showing the coupon screen on your smartphone or feature phone.
※The mobile coupons you can access on above URL is valid between Thursday, March 1st to Monday,April 30th.
Please note that the services are not available if you access the coupons before Thursday, March 1st.
The mobile coupons are only valid when being showed on your smartphone or feature phone.
[CHECK Namba Walk official web site for details.]

…continue reading


Mother’s Farm: Mountaintop Petting Zoo and More in Chiba Prefecture

Ok, that may have been a bit of an over-simplification. Mother Farm (マザー牧場) is an expansive working entertainment farm that is located in the Chiba’s central Boso Peninsula countryside sitting 300m atop Mt. Kanozan. All of these qualities comebine to create the perfect outing for those wanting to getaway from the Metropolis’s traffic-choked, building lined streets, and are looking for some open space with the kids in tow.

Not your typical theme park, the farm was the idea of Hisakichi Maeda, the founder of the Sankei Shinbun newspaper and then went on to develop Tokyo Tower. Growing up in prewar rural Osaka, his mother often said if only we had one more cow we could prosper. That must have stuck to him because in 1962, he opened the farm, the name of which is to honor his own mother.

Within it’s 250 hectare confines, you will find horses, pigs, sheep, alpacas, goats, and cows. This also means the kids can enjoy pony rides, cow milking, butter churning, piggy racing, duck parading, sheep shearing, and general oogling at the other animals in the livestock sections.

Mother Farm is also known for its fields of wildflowers so if you visit at the right time, the surrounding grounds will be an explosion of yellows, oranges, and lavenders as petunias, daffodils, wintersweets, and rape blossoms bloom. Speaking of plants, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries can be picked here as well but only in limited quantities in-season to avoid over-harvesting.

If you happen to have your own four-legged family member looking to get away, check out probably the largest collection of dog runs in the Greater Tokyo area; your canine pal will go absolutely bonkers with happiness in this environment based on my own dog’s reaction. It’s also one of the few places that are both family and dog friendly.

At …continue reading


Portraits of Rakan

Rakan, sometimes referred to by their sanskrit name of Arhat, are generally considered to be disciples of the historical Buddha, and in Japan are often found collectively as a group of 500 statues.

One of their features is that every single face is different with a different expression, and that you will be able to find at least one that reminds you of someone you know.

In the rakan

…continue reading