Category Archives: SOCIETY

The New Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo - still the biggest in the world!

So if you didn’t see my post from yesterday – the forgotten photos of Tsukiji – please check it out now. And keep those images and the atmosphere in your mind…

Are you back now? Good. First, some shots of the general setting of the new market as I experienced it on my recent trip to Tokyo.

Does it look/feel a little different?

Tourists and visitors have always been a problem with both markets. So Toyosu did away with closing the tuna auction tours after a certain number of people showed up. When I went to Tsukuji I got there around 4:30 AM and was the last one admitted for the tour for the day. Toyosu requires visitors who want premium views of the tuna to enter a lottery on-line well in advance. I did and was fortunate to win and I got to wear a special green vest to prove it. Another big difference is that at Tsukiji all of the visitors were foreigners when I was there. At Toyosu it was probably a 50-50 split between Japanese people and foreign people. Many Japanese people seem to be curious about the new market.

Through the long corridors we travelled. This led us to the third floor, which is open …continue reading


Tsukiji Fish Market Circa 2011

OOPS! I thought I already posted these pics of Tsukiji Market. But when putting together my new post for my recent trip to the new Toyosu Fish Market I couldn’t find these on the blog. So here is a giant photo dump of my most pleasant trip to Tsukiji in 2011.

Here’s some general info about Tsukiji if you don ‘t know about it:

And another one if you didn’t know about the controversial move of the fish market to a new, possibly contaminated plot of land:

And so here are my pics…

Look for Toyosu tomorrow…

…continue reading


Tweet of the Week #45: The One Thing That Always Happens to Japanese Exchange Students in America

Source: Gaijin Pot
Study Japanese with tweets

Traveling abroad plays a really important role in gaining a global outlook on life. Just graduated high school or university, or in need of a sabbatical? Well, a year studying Japanese in Japan is a great opportunity to figure out what you’d like to do next while gaining some valuable skills.

And if you needed a reason as to why Japan should be high on your list when scouting study abroad opportunities, know that Japan recently ranked as the No. 2 study abroad destination in Asia AND No.1 for teaching quality, with three universities in the worldwide Top 100.

Beyond gaining a better awareness of what’s going on around you, international experiences are also the best way to obtain valuable skills for your future. A year well spent studying abroad can really strengthen your resume. Managing to pay your bills in a foreign language at a convenience store? Independence and the ability to adapt to a new environment. Dealing with your crazy international roommates and their peculiar lifestyle? You can count on honing your cross-cultural communication skills.

The delicious caveat

That said, moving to a foreign country to study can be stressful emotionally. Add to that the fact that you’ll be diving into a foreign — and college — diet and lifestyle, and it’s pretty likely that you’ll gain some kgs at least in the beginning. (There’s a reason it’s called the Freshman 15).

If Japanese students in the US should be wary of the customary culture shock and difficulties that come with living abroad, they should also be careful with how they adjust to the American menu — a situation artfully summarized in this meme panel using scenes from the Studio Ghibli movie Spirited Away.





— まりっぺ (@Marippeppeppe) August 16, 2019





An illustration of studying in America:

When …continue reading


Japan’s Problem with Noise Pollution

Source: Gaijin Pot
Japan's problem with noise pollution

Despite Japan’s international image as a country of serene temples and quiet gardens, according to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, Japan is the noisiest country in the world.

To prevent negative effects, the WHO recommends avoiding being exposed to noise over 53 decibels. The legal average limit in Japan is about 70, a number based on data 50 years out of date, according to Prof. Matsui of Hokkaido University who spoke about the problem in an NHK feature on noise pollution in Japan.

Japan is the noisiest country in the world.

While the WHO’s numbers are likely to be a bit skewed due to the vast size of Japan’s major cities and the presence of several noise-creating airbases, there is definitely more than a grain of truth to this decibel-intense soundscape.

Even in local news concerns about noise pollution are rising with noise coming in as one of the top reasons citizens complain to the Environment Dispute Coordination Commission, a government organization that oversees environmental disputes.

Noise pollution in Japan’s cities

Of course, in rural areas, there are plenty of pockets of quiet. But in major cities, the combination of a culture of constant intrusive alerts and warnings, salespeople screaming out deals and stores’ background music, thin walls and seasonal (obnoxiously loud) local election campaigning, creates a situation in which your ears are constantly under attack — whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.

Political campaigning in Japan involves driving around in a van yelling out the name of a politician.

Japanese train stations, in‌ ‌particular, seem to be a haven of noise, with constant overlapping announcements and megaphone-wielding staff. In 2008 a doctor independently measured the sound levels of several stations and found that Tokyo hubs like …continue reading


Katsuya Yamashita RIP

We are saddened by the passing away of Katsuya Yamashita on August 14, 2019. He was 81. Originally from Kyushu, he moved with his wife to Nagoya and started his family life with a daughter and a son. Mr. Yamashita was my father-in-law and we had many common interests including motorcycles (he rode a Harley!), jazz music (he had a killer reel-to-reel player as well as a huge collection of LPs), photography and baseball (and I forgive him for being a Giants fan). I very much regret not being able to share these activities with him as he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident over 20 years ago leaving him paralyzed below the waist, bedridden and in need of an almost constant caretaker. His wife served in this capacity for over 15 years while still working full time (this is the kind of Japanese superwoman we don’t hear about enough in the media and academia). I wish I could have known him better. Ride your Harley to heaven on the big typhoon and rest in peace.

Related note: I was surprised that the funeral industry in Japan is so professional – and by this I mean cold. On the very afternoon he passed, his nursing home called his grieving wife and asked to remove his items from his room. The wake and funeral were held in a large funeral home chain – very basic. The funeral home staff approached my wife 15 minutes before the funeral and asked her to fill out a form regarding her co-payment of the funeral. There was no personal eulogy but rather a taped speech by a woman with very polite comments about how we would all miss the deceased backed by sad background music. Immediately after the funeral the body was cremated. …continue reading