Category Archives: FEATURED

Hotel Iya Onsen: On the Edge of a Lost Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

Perched on the jaw-dropping edge of a spectacular valley, Hotel Iya Onsen is one of those bucket-list experiences that I never thought I would actually get to have. Four years ago I’d seen a picture of a retro cable car plunging into a blaze of red and auburn trees in a dusty “Autumn Scenes of Japan” calendar and had made a promise to one day see it in person. Travels in Japan took me elsewhere, to the obvious must-sees like Kyoto and Mt. Fuji—places that were much easier to get to than Oku-Iya, deep down in the secluded mountains of Tokushima on the smallest and least populous of Japan’s islands: Shikoku.

But when the chance to help promote the hotel to foreign visitors came up, soon after the opening of a new bus service from Takamatsu airport directly to the Iya Valley, it seemed the time had finally come to check it off.

Blurred limes

An early morning Jetstar flight from Narita had me at Takamatsu’s compact airport in under 90 minutes. I met with my guide from the hotel, Fujikawa-san, who would be taking me across Kagawa Prefecture into Tokushima.

As we drove, the view from the window looked like different swatches of green paint melted together. I said as much to Fujikawa-san, who nodded his head apologetically, murmuring, “Yes, there is nothing, only green.” What he was humbly apologizing for — that “green” — was a huge part of the appeal of this region, where endless lime-colored vistas, fairytale thatched-roof cottages and swinging vine bridges tell a different side to the Japan story.

Every Sunday from April to October, people can get a glimpse of Tokushima’s famous Awa Odori festival with a short performance at Yoshinaga Highway Oasis —a highway rest stop in the mountains.

Alex …continue reading


Almost two in three liked their middle-schooldays

Did you enjoy your middle school life? graph of japanese statistics

This survey from @nifty looked at people’s middle-school days, when aged between 12 and 15 years old.

I had a uniform, I went home for lunch, liked maths and science, did great in the few tests that there were, and life was good, I suppose, although I haven’t really got too many strong memories from there.

Note that in Japan on the whole there is no dinner hall like most western schools; instead food gets brought to the classroom and everyone eats as a group with their classmates. If there are no catered meals, people are expected to bring their own lunch, and again everyone eats together.

I couldn’t find a picture of a middle school, but here’s an interesting circular primary school:

Research results

Q1: Did you wear a uniform or not at middle school? (Sample size=2,329)

Uniform 91.6%
No uniform 5.6%
Other 1.5%
Don’t remember 1.3%

Q2: Did you eat school meals or take a bento lunch box? (Sample size=2,329)

Bento 55.9%
School meals 36.4%
Mostly school meals, but also bento 2.6%
Changed school, so experienced both 1.3%
Don’t remember 2.6%
Other 1.2%

Q3: What classes did you like? (Sample size=2,329, multiple answer)

Male Female
Maths 42.4% 31.2%
Science 42.5% 20.9%
Social studies 33.9% 22.2%
Japanese 24.5% 42.9%
English 17.9% 28.0%
Physical education 18.5% 13.1%
Music 12.6% 27.5%
Home economics, craftwork 14.9% 13.3%
Art 11.6% 22.2%
Other 4.5% 3.0%

Q4: How did you do in tests? (Sample size=2,329)

Male Female
Very well 16.1% 20.0%
Reasonably well 39.1% 42.0%
Around the middle 25.1% 25.7%
Quite poorly 13.6% 8.3%
Very poorly 4.5% 3.2%
Don’t remember 1.6% 0.9%

Q5: Did you enjoy your middle school life? (Sample size=2,329)

Loved it 14.5%
Liked it 51.1%
Was OK 18.3%
Disliked it 10.4%
Hated it 7.3%


Between the 7th and 13th of September 2018 2,329 members of the @nifty monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. No further demographics were given.

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The Inside Japan Podcast – HR Manager Melissa from MY English School

Melissa from MY English School drops in this week to talk about her jump from a large chain Eikaiwa to a smaller school, making the move from teacher to HR, and a lot more. Enjooooy.

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[Check out My English School and Melissa: Site | Facebook]

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  • 03:48 – Intro – What Melissa Does These Days
  • 06:50 – What Melissa thought of working for a Big Eikaiwa chain
  • 09:10 – What made Melissa quit and how she found her next job
  • 12:15 – What makes a smaller school like MY English School different from a national chain?
  • 19:40 – Interview Advice
  • 24:45 – What education or certificates do you like to see on a resume?
  • 28:20 – Does working on JET add anything to your resume?
  • 32:50 – Final Advice

Every episode of the podcast is available on iTunes, Android, and Stitcher. Make sure to subscribe to the show so that you don’t miss out on any new episodes as they’re released. All ratings and reviews are also greatly appreciated.

Thanks for listening!


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14 Exquisite Halloween-Inspired Desserts To Taste In Tokyo

Hana no Babaroa’s Bavarian Halloween Decoration Cake

This limited time special Bavarian autumn cake comes with scary Halloween friends wandering a beautiful edible flower garden. Available at Paradis Tokyo Mitasu, Paradis Ikusupiari and Paradis Koishikawa until Oct. 31, 2018.

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Andaz’ Ghost Macarons

Andaz’ pastry chef’s whimsically scary miniature Halloween treats return this year with a few new surprises — including the perfectly autumn-colored Halloween macaroons that taste like no other. Available at Andaz Toranomon’s pastry shop until Oct. 31, 2018.

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Hotel Hilton Odaiba’s Halloween Dessert Buffet

Hilton Tokyo’s special Halloween dessert buffet will be themed in a colorfully scary-looking way. Based off Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival, the buffet features a series of spooky eats. Available at Hilton Tokyo Odaiba 2F Seascape Terrace dining until Oct. 31, 2018.

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Lola’s Halloween Cupcakes

An irresistible selection of handmade British cupcakes flavored and decorated just for Halloween. Buy at Lola’s Cupcakes stores in Harajuku and Roppongi Hills.

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Décadence du Chocolat’s Vampire Chocolat

Definitely worth the bite, Decadence du Chocolat is currently selling bitesize vampire-themed luxury chocolates. The perfect Halloween gift for friends, loved ones and yourself! Available at Décadence du Chocolat Ginza, Décadence du Chocolat Shinjuku and Yodoya Factory until sold out.

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Grand Hyatt’s Halloween Cocktails

Grand Hyatt’s Oak Door Bar has turned into a spooky laboratory this season with its special cocktail offers such as love potions and eternal beauty serums. Available at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s Oak Door Bar until Oct. 31, …continue reading


Hey Fellas, Wanna be a “Guyjin” Idol In Japan? Read the story so far and then think on it…

by James Collins

On a typical day in December 2016, while drinking beer and eating yakitori in a smoke-filled Izakaya somewhere outside of Tokyo, I confessed my idea of creating Japan’s first all foreign male idol group to my girlfriend. Fashioned after the ubiquitous AKB48 idol group, I called the group Guyjin48, a play on the Japanese word gaijin, which means foreigner. The group would have members from all over the world, which would sing songs entirely in Japanese. The idea had struck me shortly after moving to Japan in 2013 while surfing for Japanese music on the Internet. It was my first time being introduced to the concept of Japanese idol music, but for some reason I felt compelled to try and create a group of my own, regardless of the fact that I had absolutely no experience in music production. My girlfriend liked the idea and the next day we created a logo, wrote out the concept, and created our first help-wanted ad looking for future foreign idols of Japan.

The guyjin idol band that could have been

The concept of the Guyjin48 project evolved over a period of three years, mostly from observing Japanese society and learning about the many pressing issues the country is dealing with, i.e. their greying population and the dire need for foreign labor. So the group went from being simply an act of curiosity to having an actual message and becoming more of a conduit for creating meaningful conversation, even if at surface level it appears to simply be only a bunch of foreigners singing idol music. Japan needs diversity. Japan needs to learn how to play nice with their impending deluge of foreign immigrants. Not exactly the most popular conversation right now, but one that must be had in my opinion. Like …continue reading