All posts by blogsonjapan

Gift Guide: 6 rugged gifts for outdoorsy friends and family

TechCrunch Gift Guide 2018 banner

Shopping for someone who prefers hiking and camping to the great indoors can be tricky. Not only are outdoor enthusiasts usually less impressed by traditional gifts (clothes, games, etc.) but their preferred realm of technical gear is vast and confusing. If you’d rather not go deep on the research yourself, we’ve got some solid touchpoints for expert outdoor gear gifting.

1. Party tent

Okay, hear me out. As a pack weight-conscious backpacker the idea of a light-up tent sounded ridiculous at first, but Big Agnes is onto something with their line of mtnGLO tents. I’ve been camping with the 2-person Big Agnes mtnGLO Copper Spur tent for more than a season now and these things are really cool. The company has embedded thin strips of LED lighting into the tent itself, illuminating the inside more evenly than you can pull of with a headlamp alone without overpowering your hard-earned nature vibes.

Photo via Big Agnes

A small detachable battery pack powers the lights and you can jettison that bit if you’re really looking to shed ounces. If not, enjoy tent-bound activities like reading and looking for your prescription medication with the newfound freedom of ample light. If your special giftee prefers car camping then even better: insta-party tent. Or you know, they can fish last night’s socks out of the bottom of their sleeping bag in record time.

If this is too gimmicky (I’m telling you, it’s not!) but you’re looking to gift a tent, check out REI’s in-house brand. They make super solid tents that are generally priced well below the competition and even offer a backpacking bundle and a camping bundle that make the perfect starter set of gear for someone new to losing themselves in the great outdoors.

2. Solar Charger

goal zero solar charger

If …continue reading

    

Peppery and Tasty Tantanmen in Asakusa

Source: 5amramen.com

For peppery and tasty tantanmen in Asakusa, eat at Aun. This shop even lets you customize your tantanmen’s spice and numbing pepper levels, from 1-6.

Customize your Tantamen

Here’s everything you can customize:

  • Classic or Black Sesame
  • With or without soup Styles
  • Spice Level (1-6)
  • Numbing Pepper (Shibire) Level (1-6)

Classic, with Soup

If you’re not sure where to start, get the classic with soup (“Tantanmen”). It’s my personal favorite.

The classic broth is a perfect balance between white sesame creaminess and spicy, peppery goodness. In the soup version, they use relatively soft, thin and straight noodles that nicely soak up the broth.

If you haven’t eaten sansho numbing peppers before, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. I would recommend Level 3 or below for both spice and numbing pepper levels. At Level 6, you won’t be able to feel your mouth.

Black Sesame, without Soup

The black sesame base is wonderful in a different way. Regardless of choosing with or without soup, the taste is a bit more like having black pepper seasoning.

If you want black sesame without soup, it’s “Kuro Tsuyu Nashi”. Without soup, the noodles are flatter and thicker, similar to what you’d find with tsukemen (ramen dipping noodles). The classic without soup is fantastic too (just “Tsuyu nashi”). Make sure to mix well.

Without soup is also great if you’re …continue reading

    

Okinawa anchors its hopes on a referendum

Author: Shino Hateruma, Waseda University

Nearly three quarters of the military facilities and areas used exclusively by US military forces in Japan are located in Okinawa. Local citizens have resolved afresh to contest the heavy presence of US forces in the southernmost island prefecture as Tokyo moves forward with its long-standing plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to another part of the island. Land reclamation for the construction of the replacement base has just begun on 14 December.

Protesters against base construction gather in the early morning to protest landfill operation. On 14 December 2018 the landfill work restart at Henoko coastal in Nago, Okinawa, for the building of a new facility at Camp Schawb to take over the functions of the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, now in Ginowan, another city in Okinawa (Photo: Reuters/Nicolas Datiche/AFLO).

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Two notable developments related to the Futenma relocation plan took place in the second half …continue reading

    

IT Company DeNA Launches ‘Zero Yen Taxi’ in Tokyo

Source: Gaijin Pot

Major Japanese online service provider DeNA announced the launch of their limited “Zero Yen Taxi” service at a press conference early this month, according to an article by the Nikkei Asian Review on Dec. 6.

In a project that will run until December 31st, 50 taxi cabs covered in advertisements for Nissin Foods Holdings’ instant noodles are free to ride within Tokyo’s 23 wards.

Under the payment model for this limited-time service, the cab ride costs will fall not on the passenger but rather on DeNA and its sponsor Nissin as part of a bid by the company to gain a foothold in the crowded car-hailing market.

The free rides will be available via the company’s taxi-hailing Mov app (also free but Japanese only). All users need to do is select their pickup location and choose a cab on a map in the app. Pickup is available in central Tokyo locations only but you can go anywhere within the city’s 23 wards.

Taxi impasta?

Private vehicle ride-hailing services like Uber are technically banned, though they do exist, and while you can find apps like Japan Taxi all these services together only amount to 1% of cab usage in Japan. The vast majority of taxis are hailed in person or by phone.

Debuted in April in Kanagawa, the Mov app currently connects to around 4,000 vehicles in Tokyo by partnering with different local taxi providers. The app enables booking via smartphone and a real-time interface — much like Uber — with the details of the cab’s location, ETA and license plate. They already have plans to expand to Osaka at the beginning of 2019.

DeNA’s Executive Officer and Head of Automotive Business Unit, Hiroshi Nakashima, said during the launch announcement that simply bringing in foreign taxi hailing apps has had little impact, and that it’s …continue reading