adventure of my life (Hajime Hirayama:平山新)

2014 2Q

2013 note (October 1 to December 31) 2014-1Q note(January 1 to March 31)

 Robot Restaurant       2014.6.8

robot restaurant robot3images
Robot Restaurant  in Shinjuku is designed to appeal to the generation raised on quick, colorful, video games. Most of the clients are young working people or college students, often with an almost equal number of women as men in the audience -- and lots of foreigners. Dance routines currently run from drumming fantasies and battling dinosaurs (not at the same time), to army girls draped over the neon tank and airplane . it's hard to define exactly what the theme is. And really, who cares? Everyone is just waiting for the robots.


AKB48 (read "A.K.B. Forty-eight") is a Japanese idol girl group, initially named after the Akihabara (Akiba for short) area of Tokyo where the group's theater is located, and their original roster of 48 members. As of May 2014, the group has expanded to include 140 members whose ages range from early teens to mid-20s. The idea of AKB48's producer Yasushi Akimoto was to create a girl group that, unlike a regular pop group that gives occasional concerts and that is mostly seen on television, would have its own theater and perform there on a daily basis; the fans would always be able to go and see the girls live.This "idols you can meet" concept includes the formation of different teams that are able to rotate performances and to perform simultaneously in events at various locations, as well as the organisation of "handshake" events, where fans can briefly interact with band members. Akimoto has also expanded the AKB48 concept to several sister groups throughout Japan, and also in China and Indonesia.

Tokyo Received The First Place by Tourists   2014.5.29

This article is from the internet.  I translated it into English. Trip Adviser Co. gave the result of a poll about the most popular city in the world . Tokyo  got the  first place in the world, surpassing the famous tourist cities of New York, Paris, and Barcelona. The questionnaire has 16 categories such as ” convenience to transportation ”cleanliness of the city”, “the kindness of local people”,  “shopping”,” hotel accommodation” and “general satisfaction for the city” . The questionnaire was given to 54,000 users  regarding  37 world main cities and they evaluated each category from o to 10 point each. This was conducted  by the end of 2013. The survey says  Tokyo received the first place of the  five categories out of 16 categories, namely  "kindness of local people ", "cleanliness”, "evaluation of the public transport of the downtown",” "general taxi service" , and  "general satisfaction for the city".  In other categories, Tokyo placed the second in "convenient traveling alone", “taxi drivers kindness”, the third in “restaurant”, “night life” , the fifth in “shopping “  , the eighth in “easiness of traveling”, “hotel accommodation”, "gentleness for families" . Tokyo got The Top Ten for 13 categories out of 16 categories. The questionnaire showed that Tokyo is a good city of  public transportation which is safe, clean and kind to tourists. In addition,  restaurant,   hotel accommodation,  and the quality of the shopping are observed  to be  No. 1 in the world .  

Types of Sushi

**pictures are quoted from the internet
nigiri chirashi2
images inari
oshi kakinoha
From top left side (1) nigiri-zushi (a small lump of boiled rice with sliced fish on top) (or Edo-mae-zushi - literally, sushi in front of Edo), (2)chirashi-zushi (vinegared boiled rice with thin strips of cooked egg, pieces of sliced raw fish, vegetables and crab meat arranged on top), (3) maki-zushi (rolled sushi),(4) inari-zushi (fried tofu stuffed with vinegared boiled rice) , (5)oshi-zushi (sushi rice and other ingredients pressed in box),(6)kakinoha-sushi(sushi rice and other ingredients pressed in persimmon leaf) sushi-restaurant And this is "Gunkan-maki". Sushi rice  are covered by dried seaweed topped with sushi items. Usually, tiny or soft items are used such as salmon roe, a sea urchin, an icefish, negitoro. The name is from the shape like  warship. gunkan sushi item
sushi-shop kaienn
 typical sushi restaurant  kaiten-zushi(plates of sushi rest on a circular conveyor belt)

 Japanese Ramen    2014.5.17

Japanese ramen is quite different from Chinese one. In Chinese cuisine, there was originally no such dish as 'ramen'; it is a dish that was developed uniquely in Japan. Japanese ramen usually use deep taste and rich flavor soup, and there are many type of soup such as miso-soup, pork bone base soup , solt soup using chicken bone broth. In addition, many ingredients are used as topping, such as cone, dried seaweed, butter.Instant ramen is also popular all over the world  which was also created and developed in Japan. Ramen sold in a disposable cup is a popular instant food in Japan and overseas.

Merits and Demerits of TPP         3014.5.16

TPP talks in ‘endgame’ WASHINGTON (Jiji Press)—The 12 countries taking part in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations are “definitely in the endgame,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Wednesday. He made the remarks during a speech in New York, suggesting that talks to draft new rules about intellectual property rights and other issues are progressing. The United States, which leads the multilateral free trade negotiations, clashed with Japan over Japanese tariffs on five key farm product categories, including beef and pork, as well as the auto trade. possible merits and demerits merits 1)increasing the number of Japanese products to overseas 2)GDP will up by 2.7 trillion yen (0.5%) in ten years demerits 1)increasing the agricultural products containing food additives, genetically-modified food, pesticide residue 2)the risk of deflation become high with influx of cheaper products 3)damaging Japanese agriculture industry by importing cheaper products

Good Lucks for Japanese     2014.5.6

1. Number The number 8 is considered good luck because of its shape. The Kanji of Number Eight (8 )  "八" is spread wide toward the end which means good luck. 2. Animals Owl is same pronunciation of Kanji “不苦労” which means "trouble-free". Crane or Turu was believed to live one thousand years during the ancient times,which symbolized "long life". Toutus is believed to live ten thousands years which also which symbolized "long life". 3. Omamori Omamori or talisman is believed to bring luck and protection its owner from any danger or harm. 4. Ema Ema is a small wooden plaque on which Shinto worshipers write their prayers or wishes. 5. Standing Tea Leaves Usually tea leaves go to  the bottom when  the hot water is poured in a teacup . If some of the leaves stand horizontally in the water,  Some believed this was the sign that they will have a house in future.

Bad Lucks for Japanese         2014.5.2

1. Numbers Numbers of 4 and 9 are bad luck number for Japanese. Because the pronunciations have  meaning "death" and "painfulness" respectively. On the other hand, Western people tend to avoid 13 as an unlucky number. There are many origins of the reason. One of dominant reasons is that Christ was killed on 13th of the month. 2. Crow / Black Cat When people saw crows or black cats on one's garden, people felt that unlucky things would  happen near future, because black color was considered as an ill-omened sign and was detested. 3. Broken Mirror From ancient times, Japanese people have considered the mirror as a sacred thing because it  reflect one's  spirit in front of the mirror. If the mirror was broken,  people considered also  the spirits  were  broken and accidents fall on them. 4. Solar Eclipse In ancient times, this phenomenon was considered   as the act of God and people feared it. They thought bad things would happen such as strong earthquake or volcanic eruption. I found a internet site on bad luck later.

Today's Mt. Fuji   2014.4.28

2014-04-28 13.12.43 2014-04-28 13.47.08
                             Click the picture to enlarge the picture. pic1: Mt. Fuji from the Izu  Sky line pic2: Mt. Fuji and  Lake Asi from Daikan-zan

wheelbarrow                                                    201.4.20

I bought this wheelbarrow for gardening. I sometimes change my garden moving  soil and flowers. It is helpful to do such works. handbarrow

Japan considers duty free downtown store          2014.4.19

At present, Japan doesn't have own duty free shopping facility outside Japanese international airports. Therefore, foreigners buy some Japanese products such as electric products , clothes, cosmetics at departments stores or electric shopping centers . Some shops have their own DFS counters and foreigners are able to get tax refund   on the spot. But most of shops can't refund tax, so those tax are refunded  at the airport where they go back to their countries. Recently I found a news about duty free shopping  facility  that will build in future. The Japanese Government is considering allowing a duty free shopping facility to be set up in Daiba district, a major Tokyo tourist spot. quoted from  a internet site

Consumption tax rate raises from 5 to 10 percent

A consumption tax was introduced in Japan in April 1989, with the rate set at 3 percent. Then the rate was raised to 5 percent in April 1997, but since then it has not been changed. However, a new bill to raise the consumption tax rate was passed in the Diet in August, and the rate went  up to 8 percent in April 2014, and then to 10 percent in October 2015. The government says this is one of the measures necessary to secure financial resources for our rising social security costs. It is not surprising that many Japanese are unhappy  to pay a much higher tax rate . But, as a matter of fact, Japan's consumption tax rate is one of the lowest compared to other countries. For example, the rate is 25 percent in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Hungary even raised it from 25, to 27 percent in January, in order to respond to their financial crisis. Many other countries in Europe have relatively high rates of between 15 to 25 percent. Looking at Asia, the rate is 17 percent in China, 12 percent in the Philippines, 10 percent in South Korea, 7 percent in Thailand and Singapore, and 5 percent in Taiwan. The Asian average is lower than that of Europe, but Japan is still the lowest of all the countries that adopt a consumption tax. The United States is a little different ─ each state, county or city has a local sales tax that varies from 0 to 9.45 percent. Likewise, Canada has both federal and provincial sales taxes. Of course, you can't compare taxation systems of different countries just by looking at how high or low the tax rate is. There are countries that adopt very high consumption tax rates but provide people with free education and healthcare. Many countries have a reduced tax rate for food, commodities and so on. Meanwhile in Japan, even with the current 5 percent, many people are struggling to come up with the money to pay for raising kids, education and welfare. We surely hope that if we are to pay the higher tax, then it does indeed bring us better social security. from  a internet site

International Parcel delivery

Many Japanese companies have a delivery service for parcels to overseas. These are the services of two major Japanese companies. 1. Japan post cooperation You can use this service to send general goods. There are three shipping types for outbound parcels that vary by speed and cost. Features of International Parcel Post There are three shipping types: Airmail, Surface mail (by land) and Economy Air (SAL). A discount that offers a 10% to 20% available depending on the number of items posted. The maximum weight limit is 30 kg. (Weight limits vary by country.) Procedures are easy and simple. Fill out the special parcel label and paste it on the package. You can insure your parcels against loss or damage. (The amount of insurance varies by country.) 2.Yamato Transport Co.,LTD International TA-Q-BIN is a service for sending parcels overseas . It's convenient to send them and very inexpensive. It will also delivered within few days. But oversea  delivery regions and the size of parcels are limited, so before sending them ask the International TA-Q-BIN office in Japan. It's easy to find the phone number through the internet. Also comfirm the items of delivery, some items such as fresh meat and flowers are prohibited .

Some key words of  Japanese economy            4.11

Baburu Keizai or Bubble economy is the time when asset prices rise to unusual levels. In the late  1980's, bubble economy developed and  real estates and stock prices were dramatically up. At the end of 1980's, the bubble economy bursted and Japanese banks  left enormous bad loans. Since then, Japanese economy has been sluggish and suffered from deflation. Shushin-koyo or Life time employment means that companies guarantee employment until their retirement age, in return to the employees' loyalty. This system played an important role at the time of high  economic growth  period. However, with increasing world competitiveness in business, Japanese companies started to review this system and are now focusing on merit base promotion systems. Many old workers  at present have a risk of losing job. On the other hand, young graduates have few opportunities to get a job as  full time employees. Seniority ranking system means that the promotion and salary are decided by the length of service of the workers.This system played an important role during  the Japanese high economic growth period. Now, as the Japanese economy undergoes restructuring,  the merit base promotion system became common among companies. Risutora is the Japanese abbreviation for restructuring. Restructuring is the time of changing  organizations. This word implies losing one’s job. Amakudari is the practice of private companies hiring retired bureaucrats at a high salary in return for favor. This practice has been criticized, but still prevalent in various organizations.  To stop Amakudari is a major challenge for the government.

Do you think that a person wearing mask is strange?

In Japan, many people suffer from hay fever during early spring.  In order to be protected against pollens, people must wear a mask and glasses. The other day, an American told me that the occasion of wearing mask is only to protect serious virus in the hospital, so it’s odd to see in public place. In China, people wearing mask are also common especially during winter. They suffer from PM2. This particulate material 2 are caused by burning coal for heating. The density of PM2 has become 8 times than the max standard and it’s almost difficult to see surrroudings ahead of people. The symptoms of my hay fever are running nose, itching eyes, and sneeze. In order to reduce my symptoms, I wear mask and glasses while going out as much as possible.  

Why Japanese rice cooker are popular among Chinese      2014.4.1

Chinese people visiting japan often buy Japanese  rice cookers as a souvenir.  There are several comments for the reason. Some Chinese say that’s the matter of feelings, not the quality. But most Chinese  says that it’s difference from quality between Chinese cookers and Japanese ones. In fact , Japanese rice cookers have many elaborate functions to make a delicious cooked rice . Depend  on the quantity of water, time, and rice, this electric cooker  changes the temperature and pressure naturally. Some cookers also have a function  to adjust flexibly the quantity of water and rice to make good cooked rice,  even if one mistakes these quantities. A Chinese person once checked both cookers and found that Japanese one was superior for tastes. It’s also good that the cooked rice don’t stick to the cooker.
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