All posts by blogsonjapan

Hakone and The Old Tokaido

Hakone is usually more synonymous with skiing or being a jumping off point for tours to Mt. Fuji but it’s actually a great place to check out almost anytime of the year since it’s easily accessible by way of the Odakyu Line or many direct express buses. Of the many things to get into, we’re going to set our sights on the history and natural beauty of this area for this particular day trip.

Touring the Old Tokaido Road There’s a bullet train, regular train, and two expressways named “Tokaido” but the original was just a foot and horse trail. Only 11km of the original path actually remains and you can find it here. Using this map, we’re going to walk along the same trail many a samurai, merchant and laborer walked in the old days of Edo and check out a little history along the way.

  • Hakone-Yumoto Station We’ll start here since this also means we will be walking downhill the entire time. The station area itself is lively with tourists and shops selling sundries and souvenirs from the area. There are also plenty of restaurants and even convenience stores in case you arrived on an empty stomach. Here’s a good chance to stock up on some water for the walk ahead too.
  • Hakone History Museum Since its near the trail, head here to learn more about the journey you’re embarking on and all the hot springs you’ll be walking past shortly. You’ll also learn why Hakone was a very important stop along the Tokaido.
  • Hakone Daitengu Shrine This shrine located at the halfway point may look fairly new, but it’s just because it was rebuilt in 2004. But it’s been around since the late 1800’s and is a very interesting spot to check out, especially if you love …continue reading

The First 10 Sentences You Should Learn in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot
The First 10 Sentences You Should Learn in Japanese

When you first come to Japan, learning the language can be daunting. Sometimes, it can almost seem as if you’re speaking like Yoda as you rearrange the grammar into a form that doesn’t immediately put off the listener. Of course, there are strategies to help learners out during this tricky early stage. One of the best ways to make some headway is to learn some simple sentences with words that can easily be substituted out to make other sentences.

To this end, I would like to present the first 10 sentences that I would learn if I had a do-over to start studying Japanese. All of these sentences contain vital grammar points and vocabulary that you will need for the first couple of months in these fantastic isles.

Note that the polite forms are indicated to the right of the English translation.

1. ~と言(い)う意味(いみ)?| Does that mean ~? | ~と言う意味ですか?

This is the first sentence that every learner should master. Basically ~と言う意味? is a useful way to check that you understood what the speaker was saying by slightly rephrasing their words. Everything from clarifying if you understand — as in ”この言葉(ことば)は何(なん)と言う意味?” (“What does that word mean?”) — to whether that attractive person is actually asking you out: ”デートと言う意味?” (“Do you mean a date?”). Hmmm… maybe use that second one at your own risk!

It also introduces learners to the words 言う (to say) and 意味 (meaning of something), which are two incredibly useful words.

2. 何(なに)これ?| What is that? | これは何ですか?

Ever stared at your plate and wondered what exactly you were about to eat? Well, wonder no longer with this useful phrase (don’t forget to thank us when we save you from some of the culinary adventures you may experience if you don’t know this sentence… ).

It also introduces learners to the pronoun これ, which refers …continue reading


Apartment asking prices across greater Tokyo increase for first time in 4 months

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average asking price of a 70 sqm (753 sq.ft) apartment across greater Tokyo was 36,190,000 Yen in March, up 0.6% from the previous month and up 1.1% from last year. This was the first increase in four months. The average building age was 23.2 years.

In Tokyo’s 23 wards the average asking price was 53,870,000 Yen, up 1.1% from the previous month and up 1.4% from last year. This is the first increase seen in 3 months. In Tokyo’s central six wards (Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shibuya, Bunkyo and Shinjuku) the average price was 74,550,000 Yen, up 1.0% from the previous month and up 2.4% from last year.

Source: Tokyo Kantei, April 19, 2018.

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Playing palm oil politics ahead of Malaysia’s elections

Author: Yu Leng Khor, Singapore

On 16 January 2018, a rare protest by Malay and indigenous oil palm farmers in downtown Kuala Lumpur caught news headlines. Two thousand Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) settlers and smallholders (armed with 103,078 signatures collected from FELDA settlers) protested the European Union Parliament’s efforts to fast track the exclusion of palm-based biofuels in its Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) policy revision.

Supporters of Malaysia’s ruling party National Front waves the party flags during the launch of its manifesto for the upcoming general elections in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 7 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

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Malaysia’s palm oil producers view the decision to exclude palm-based biofuels ahead of competitor oils as discriminatory. Malaysia’s Minister for Primary Industries and Commodities labelled the decision ‘crop apartheid‘.

While the RED II policy is still subject to contestation with a year-end legislative target, Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil players are justified in their fears — the EU energy demand for palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia is worth about US$1.5 billion per year. Malaysia’s market share is 30 per cent and a notional loss would total about US$256 for each of Malaysia’s 650,000 smallholders. Under current income estimates, this would represent 5 per cent of a FELDA …continue reading


New Illustrations of the Ghibli Theme Park, Set to Open in 2022

Last year we reported that Studio Ghibli and Aichi Prefecture had reached an agreement to host Ghibli Park, a large-scale Ghibli-themed amusement park that would be the first of its kind. The plans called for the Aichi Memorial Park, a former expo site that had previously hosted several Ghibli exhibitions, to be renovated into Ghibli […]

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