All posts by blogsonjapan

This extra-large handheld Nintendo works (and feels) like the real thing

Handheld retro gaming machines come and go, but few go so simply and effectively to the point as My Arcade’s Retro Champ. You stick in your NES cartridge, hit the power button and, assuming you blew on it beforehand, it powers up. This one sets itself apart with a big ol’ screen, Famicom compatibility and a whopping 35-hour battery life. Update: Nope! It’s 3 to 5 hours, not 35 as the company originally stated. I thought that was suspiciously high.

I played with the Retro Champ at CES, where they had one under lock and key — it’s not the production version, but that’s coming in the Spring. But it works just like you’d expect, and I was pleased to find it responsive, comfortable and pleasantly ridiculous. It’s really quite big, but not nearly as heavy as it looks.

The 7-inch screen is bright and the color looked good; it was responsive and the device felt well-balanced. The controls are where you’d expect, with big scoops in the back of the case to help you grip it. NES cartridges go in the top (and stick out as you see) and Famicom cartridges tuck in the bottom.

There’s a stand so you can prop it up and use wireless controllers with it (not included; they’re trying to keep the price low), and you can also plug it straight into your TV via HDMI, which basically makes this thing a spare NES home console. (I’m waiting to hear back on the screen and output resolutions and some other technical details.)

Lastly (and hilariously), there’s a hidden cleaning kit with space for a few Q-tips and a small bottle of solvent, for getting those really grimed-up games working.

My questions went to the usual pain points for scrupulous retro-loving gamers like myself:

Yes, it’s a 16:9 screen, …continue reading


New tax revision to allow 2% of building purchase price to be deducted

The government has decided to extend the home loan tax deduction program for new home buyers to allow a three-year period whereby a home owner could deduct up to 2% of the building portion of their purchase price from their income tax. This is an effort to help support the housing market this year when the consumption tax rate is scheduled to increase to 10% from October 2019.

The three-year extension to the current 10-year maximum term will allow a home owner to deduct up to 2% of the property purchase price* from their income tax apportioned over a three year period.

Note: The deduction only applies to the building portion of the purchase price for properties purchased where the new 10% consumption tax rate applies. Consumption tax only applies to the building portion of a sale, not the land portion. Consumption tax does not apply when the seller is a private individual.

The current home loan tax deduction allows you to deduct up to 1% of your remaining home loan from your income tax each year for the first 10 years, with a maximum deduction ranging from 200,000 ~ 500,000 Yen per year. The new proposal would apply to new home buyers and allow them to apply the 1% deduction for the first 10 years, followed by a 2% deduction of the purchase price apportioned over 3 years.

During the three-year extended term, either 2% of the building portion of the purchase price apportioned over the three years or 1% of the remaining loan balance, whichever amount is lower, may be deducted from the borrower’s income tax.

The three-year extension only applies to those who purchase and move into their eligible home between October 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020. For properties under construction, the term will apply for contracts signed from April 2019.

For …continue reading


Bazoku: The Best Handmade Noodles in Tokyo

Classic Tantanmen

It’s a bold statement but ramen shop Bazoku in Asakusa arguably has the best handmade noodles in Tokyo.

Tantanmen: ¥850

A Noodle Experience

Bazoku makes their noodles old-school style, just like Chinese immigrants did in Tokyo 100 years ago. In a big window facing the street, you’ll see a burly man vigorously pulling and folding noodles by hand.

What’s more dramatic is the way he’ll slam the noodle dough on the table with both hands. These slamming vibrations can be felt throughout the shop.

As a result, Bazoku’s noodles are marvelously chewy. This chewiness doesn’t come from under-cooking the noodles. You can tell when you bite into them the effect this intense slamming, pulling, and folding (kneading) has had.

Massive Menu

Just like any old-school Chinese ramen shop, Bazoku has a massive menu (and an English one too). The menu includes everything from classic ramen to yakisoba (fried noodles).

Classic Ramen!
Classic Ramen: ¥650

If you’re going for the first time, I would personally recommend the Tantanmen (¥850). It’s slightly spicy and a great Winter dish.

Tanmen: ¥950

Their Tanmen (salt-based broth with a lot of veggies) is also a winner. Every ramen at Bazoku has a vintage taste and this taste may not be as dynamic as modern ramen broth. But their insanely good noodles, massive …continue reading


Taking Japanese Lessons in Tokyo – Japan Switch

So you’ve decided that this year is the year you get your Japanese up to a decent level.

Well done! You’re already ahead of most foreigners who don’t invest in their language abilities, a serious long-term advantage in Japan. So now what?

There is just no substitute for in-person lessons and communication practice. You can try your luck with the local ward office lessons, but you’ll often end up with sub-par teachers.

The thing is that getting lessons at one of the big name Japanese schools will cost you an arm and a leg, plus a kidney and a little slice of your liver too!

An awesome and new option just opened up in Shinjuku, Tokyo – Japan Switch!

  • 1500 yen for 50 minute group lessons
  • 3000 yen for 50 minute private lessons
  • Monthly contracts and not a stupid 10 lesson plan that locks you in even if you end up with a teacher you aren’t learning from.
  • Morning and noon lessons
  • No sign up fees or hidden fees of any kind. Just pay for your class and get your Japanese up.

How do you know if it will be any good? Japan Switch is collaborating with Coto Academy (one of the most reputable Japanese schools in Tokyo) to deliver their lessons. You’ll be getting trained real Japanese teachers, not just volunteers.

Click here to learn more and get a free level check and consultation.

…continue reading