Category Archives: SOCIETY

Whisky Lovers Nagoya

Recently, whisky is much more popular here in Japan than it was a decade ago. The TV drama “Massan” (story of Nikka whisky) is perhaps the key to this whisky boom, and the reason why there are now so many whisky events in Japan… but not Nagoya. (Mostly Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe) This event is the only whisky event in Nagoya, so whisky lovers in Nagoya can’t miss it!

100 booths (last year 60 booths!) offer you a taste of many kinds of whiskys from all over the world. Some rare whisky or expensive whisky will cost between 100 JPY and 1000 JPY, and offer some some foods too.

Whisky Lovers Nagoya 2018

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A Look At Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Womenomics 5 Years On

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much ballyhooed targets for women achieving managerial positions in Japanese companies doesn’t seem to be working out as planned. What’s happening and how can Japan reverse the trend?

On the surface, the situation doesn’t look particularly bad: Japanese female labor participation surpasses the United States for the first time in history, according to data by the OECD. The Japanese government has set up incentive programs to subsidize companies that promote women’s participation in the workforce. Yuriko Koike became the first woman to be elected governor of Tokyo. Looking just at these “results,” you start believing that Abe’s Womenomics policies are going well, but a closer investigation reveals issues lurking below the surface.

“Womenomics”: The Master Plan

Womenomics is a term coined by Kathy Matsui, vice chair and chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs Japan, which refers to theories examining how the advancement of women in business and society links to increased development rates. In simple terms, countries where women have equal status in government, work and social standing, tend to do better economically. This also works with smaller-scale businesses. In results of a study done by the Catalyst group, companies with more women on their boards outperformed companies with exclusively male board members.

With Japan facing increasing economic pressure due to its aging population, one of the cornerstones of Abe’s financial growth strategy, Abenomics, has been creating policies to encourage more women to join the workforce, in order to jumpstart economic growth — a 15% growth in Japan’s GDP being the ultimate goal.

Nearly half of [Japan’s employed women in 2016] were employed part-time, on a contract base or as haken (temp) workers, which equates to low pay, little responsibility and few chances to advance their careers.

To achieve this, since assuming power in 2012, the ruling bloc …continue reading


What Does the New Year Have in Store For You? Check your Omikujis at these Shrines

Japan has only been doing New Year’s celebrations since 1873, when the country adopted the Gregorian calendar of the West. Traditionally the Japanese New Year was based on the Chinese lunar calendar where the dates each year were not fixed. But now the New Year is locked into January 1 and most of the country shuts down for several days on either side of the event.

There is traditional food such as rice cakes and buckwheat noodles. At midnight Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times (107 before the midnight hour and once in the new year) to vanquish the 108 worldly desires. Postcards are dispatched to friends and relatives. But the biggest activity for many is the trip to the first Shinto shrine of the New Year – the hatsumōde.

The pilgrimage is undertaken to pray for good luck in the year to come and worshipers also take advantage of the occasion to buy good luck amulets to shift the fortunes in their favor. It is also a time to burn old ones that may not have delivered on their promise. Long lines form outside Japan’s Shinto shrines and some attract millions of visitors during the first three days of the New Year. Here are some of the shrines to experience around Kobe…

Ikuta Shrine

The Ikuta Shrine tucked among the bustle of Sannomiya is one of the city’s most popular dispensaries of amulets. It is small and said to be one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan, having been erected in the 3rd century AD for the Empress Jingu. Traditionally Ikuta Shrine has been considered a guardian of personal health, taking its name from the Chinese character meaning “life.” Since good health is at the top of many wish lists for the coming year, Ikuta Shrine is a top destination for …continue reading


Imperial Gratitude: The Reason for Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Imperial Gratitude: The Reason for Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan

Around this time each year, I have the same conversation with my students: “There’ll be a national holiday next week,” I begin. “Can any of you tell me the name of that holiday?”


“C’mon, think. This Thursday — and no peeking at Wikipedia!”

One of the student calls out: “Culture Day!”

“No. Culture Day, or Bunka no Hi, was three weeks ago on Nov. 3,” I say. “Thursday, Nov. 23. What’s the holiday? Anyone? Anyone?” I feel like the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

“Oh! I know!”

“Ayano, yes, what was it?”

Kinro Kansha no Hi.

“That’s right! Now what is Labor Thanksgiving Day? Anyone?”

One student suggests that it is a day we give thanks to our parents for working hard.

“Well, maybe, but there’s more to it than that. Are any of you doing anything special for Labor Thanksgiving Day?”


I go around the room, asking students what their plans are. Some will work at their part-time jobs, others will probably loaf about at home. A few may go shopping.

“If you’re not going to do anything special, why have a national holiday?” I ask. “Whenever a national holiday holiday rolls around, I always try at least to wear my Rising Sun skivvies.”

When half of them laughs, the other half that has been dozing comes to life. Now that I’ve got their attention I ask why some of their holidays, such as the autumnal equinox, Shubun no Hi, fell on a Saturday this year? “Why not move the day to a Monday like so many other holidays? Why is the date for Shubun no Hi and other holidays like Kinro Kansha no Hi fixed?”

They don’t know.

Shubun no Hi, I explain, is actually one of two Koreisai and Labor Thanksgiving Day is in reality a harvest festival called Niiname-sai, a Shinto rite performed by the Emperor.

“Have any of …continue reading


Soemoncho & Hozenji Dotonbori

Soemoncho, Osaka.


If you haven’t been to seen the night life areas of Osaka when the night is in full swing or just coming to an end in the wee hour of morning, then you’ve been missing a slice of life that is forever interesting and these days slowly fading away.

Mizu shobai or the water business is a part of Japan that has been around for a very long time. A business of the night that flows high and low along with the economy and indeed is very much part of the larger economy, since so many decisions and deals are clinched between drinks and small talk in the semi-darkness of an expensive club.

In previous years the business suffered badly under the double influence of the recession and the severe cutback in business expenses.
And then too, because of younger generations of salarymen, who tend to spend more time with their families and less with the guys from the office. At one time you had nearly no choice as a salaryman but to go: it was literally a part of the job, as well as being a way of letting off steam before going home. These days the clubs are changing their ways and trying their best to stay in fashion with the business crowd, but it seems they’re fighting a losing battle that only a very few smart clubs will win in the end.

Osaka, like any other big city in Japan, has its fair share of mizu shobai areas. The best known are Kita Shinchi just south of Umeda and the Namba or Minami area, where things are cheaper and a lot more varied.

The fact that Namba is cheaper probably has something to do with history of Osaka’s development after the war. …continue reading