Category Archives: SOCIETY

8 of the Coolest Movie Locations You Can Visit in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
8 of the Coolest Movie Locations You Can Visit in Japan

Japan has served as the setting for a number of Hollywood films. For foreigners dreaming of the Land of the Rising Sun, these films might be their first exposure to the sight of certain real-life places across the country. Here we take a look at some of those places — an elite honor roll that has served to provide the most memorable set pieces in major motion pictures depicting the country.

We have a separate GaijinPot guide to the best Lost in Translation spots in Tokyo, where we tour the locations featured in that movie. This list covers a range of other films from Silence (2016) to the Americanized crossover hit Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956). If you want to live the movies in Japan, this is your must-read crash course on the best spots.

1. Visit the steaming landscape of Unzen seen in Martin Scorsese’s Silence

Photo by David Pursehouse

Unzen Onsen

Director Martin Scorsese used Taiwan as a stand-in for Japan when filming his adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel Silence. However, the film is set mostly in Nagasaki Prefecture and it depicts real locations there such as the steamy hot springs area Unzen Jigoku (Unzen Hell).

This is where the movie opens, with Liam Neeson’s character sinking to his knees as he watches his fellow kakure kurisuchan (hidden Christians) being martyred. Today, a cross marks the martyrdom site while sulfuric steam continues to rise from the ground. A place of historical significance, Unzen Onsen is also a thriving hot springs town.

At the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki City, you can see Our Lady of the Snows, an artifact reproduced for the movie.

2. Retrace The Wolverine‘s steps from Zojoji to Nakagin Capsule Tower

<img src="×768.jpg" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" srcset=" 1024w,×225.jpg 300w,×518.jpg 690w" alt="Women in yukata …continue reading


New Japanese Sports for 2020 Olympics

An Olympic athlete waits at a starting line

The committee in charge of sports nomination for the 2020 Olympics today announced a raft of new sports and rule changes to give the Japan Games a more local flavor.

“I am every excited to announce today, that the 2020 Olympic Games is gearing up to be the best installment of the games yet,” said Suitachisuke Yongatsu, head of the For Olympic Organization Licensing Sub-committee (FOOLS). “Japan is a nation unlike any other, and to this end we have come to the decision that our sports should reflect this.”

The decision is likely to be contentious within the international sporting community as the changes are likely to heavily favor Japanese participants and some contestants have already voiced their concerns, with Chinese gymnast Sì Yuè Yī Rì, Latvian shot-putter Balandžio Pirmoji and Welsh sprinter Ebrill Gyntaf all making their opinions known on twitter.

2020 Olympic Event Rule Changes:

  • Participants taking part in the 100 meters will be required to wear alternative footwear, with spikes being swapped for wooden geta sandals.
  • The izakaya marathon will replace the regular marathon, with each mile point marked by a Japanese restaurant in which contestants must drink a highball and eat a plate of karaage.
  • Contestants in all cycling events will be required to to ride mamachari bicycles laden down with three bags of groceries and a three year old child on the back. All breaks must squeak deafeningly.
  • Beach volleyball will remain essentially unchanged, except that contestants will have to shout ‘Atsu! Atsu! Atsu!’ each time that they step on the hot sand.
  • All swimming events will be held in specially designed 50m onsen baths. Participants must be naked. Expected to the best spectated event.

2020 Olympic Event New Sports:

  • The ‘subway squeeze’ is a new a sport where teams must fill a subway compartment with as …continue reading

Savvy Spotlight: TELL Lifeline Director Vickie Skorji

TELL Lifeline director Vickie Skorji at the TELL offices.

After facing challenges in her career head on, Skorji has used them to help her better understand and support those who contact the non-profit organization on its telephone and chat lines.

This month, which is Suicide Prevention Month in Japan, she shares with Savvy Tokyo why the TELL Lifeline is so important, how we should think about mental health and what readers can do to help over the next few weeks and beyond.

TELL Lifeline director Vickie Skorji at the TELL office in Tokyo.

What brought you to Japan?

My husband. I thought I could continue my studies as I had only to finish some placements to complete a specialist qualification in neuropsychology but at that time (20 years ago) the field was in its infancy in Japan and it was next to impossible to do courses online.

Why did you get involved in TELL?

I spent a long time in Australia trying to get that qualification, so when the inability to do the final placement and get a supervisor in Japan stopped me from finishing it, I fell into a bit of a hole. I spent my first few years doing the typical things that people do as a trailing spouse. We had kids, so I was on the PTA, and I did ikebana (flower arrangement) classes.

But it came to the point where I wanted to do something with the skills that I had. That’s when I volunteered on TELL’s Lifeline. I fell in love with what the volunteer community was doing, supporting people who were struggling. I was fortunate to be offered a position to run the training for the Lifeline and then I worked on TELL’s clinic for five years. I’ve now been running the Lifeline for the past few years.

I never planned to be in Japan this long and never planned …continue reading


Asahi: Setagaya Ward plans to battle inter alia racial, ethnic discrimination (in specific) in a local ordinance. Progressive steps!


Asahi: Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward has drafted an ordinance designed to protect racial, ethnic and sexual minorities from discriminatory practices, a move hailed by human rights experts as an “advanced measure.” The ward was one of the first local governments in Japan to recognize same-sex marriages, and the draft ordinance covers sexual minorities.

However, the draft specifically notes that its target also includes discrimination based on nationality and race. Under the plan, the ward will establish a committee that will handle public complaints about discrimination and advise the mayor on what measures to take. A standing committee of the Setagaya Ward assembly approved the draft on Feb. 26. The assembly is expected to adopt the ordinance at a plenary session on March 2, and it will likely take effect in April.

COMMENT: Setagaya-ku is trying to do what Tottori Prefecture tried to do in 2005 (which was, pass Japan’s first ordinance specifically against racial discrimination, which is still NOT illegal in Japan; alas, Tottori UNpassed it months later). To be sure, Setagaya-ku’s goals are obscured behind the typical slogans of “discrimination due to differences in culture”, and there isn’t even a mention of “racial discrimination” (rendered as jinshu sabetsu) in this Setagaya-ku pamphlet briefing on the issue from last September. But baby steps, and the issue of “racial discrimination” (which has long been denied even as existing in Japan) has had domestic media traction as an actual, existing problem because of Setagaya-ku. Let’s hope this serves as a template for other legislative bodies this time. …continue reading


Good Morning! This School Ritual Could Be the Key to a Great Day

Source: Gaijin Pot
Good Morning! This School Ritual Could Be the Key to a Great Day

How our days turn out is often determined by how we begin them. If we hit the snooze button on the alarm clock six times (or seven or eight… ), wake up tired, with headaches or on the “wrong” side of our beds — basically as described John Lennon and Paul McCartney in “A Day in the Life” on the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — we’re probably not going to have a “good day.” The middle part of the song starts:

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late…

As ALTs, this means that not only will we be dragging ourselves through the day, but also our lessons will suffer — and that directly affects our students and their intellectual growth. A good song, but overall it describes a bad situation that I do not recommend.

So, let’s get up early and on the “right” side of the bed, allow ourselves enough time to eat some breakfast and make our bus (or train or whatever) in more than just “seconds flat.” Also, rising earlier allows us to get to school quickly and that means we can join in the morning ritual of aisatsu, or greetings

Within the context of a Japanese school, these salutations take on a life of their own.

The practice of aisatsu involves most (if not all) teachers and school staff standing outside the school gate and bellowing out to all incoming students: “Ohaiyo (Good morning)!” This is usually very early in the morning and happens rain or shine (or blizzard or typhoon or windstorm… ). During the winter months, teachers wear long down jackets and snow boots while in the summer, everyone becomes sunburnt and sweaty.

Why on earth do …continue reading