Monthly Archives: June 2011

Japan is unique because…

Sometimes I get some of the strangest comments from a few people in Japan, I have to wonder if they’ve ever learned about anything outside of Japan.  One of the most common comments I’ve had is that Japan is unique because it has 4 seasons.  It’s as if only Japan gets 4 seasons.  When I tell them that Canada has 4 seasons, they’re shocked to discover this.  They thought only Japan has 4 seasons.  I then go on to tell them that every country outside of the tropics has 4 seasons.  It really seems to surprise them.  They then go on to say that Japan’s seasons are special, and describe them briefly.  Then I tell them that’s what it’s like in Canada, too.  I think I’ve shattered a few people’s bubbles that they live in.  And that’s a good thing.

On a similar note, even though I’ve been in Japan for more than 6 years, I still have people telling me about rainy season as if it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.

12 Comments

Filed under Japan, Weather

Exploring Japan: Day and Night view from Landmark Tower – March 26, 2010

Watching the city change while the sun goes down is an interesting thing to see.  Everything goes from light to dark, while all the lights turn on.  I was in the Sky Garden at Landmark Tower when the sun was setting, and this was a great opportunity for some pictures.  Enjoy the photos!

Looking toward Queen's Square and the Grand Intercontinental Hotel at Minatomirai.

Here's Cosmo World with the big ferris wheel and Aka-Renga area.

There are plenty of new condo buildings here, as well as Pacifico Yokohama and Rinko Park.

This is looking toward Yokohama Station.

Looking west over Yokohama, toward Minami Ward.

Down there is Sakuragicho Station and the new TOC Minatomirai building. It's starting to get darker out.

Here's the harbour area. More lights are coming on.

Looking south toward the Kannai area.

This big blue tunnel of lights was part of a lovers event in Landmark Tower.

Now that the sun has set, we revisit the Yokohama Station view.

And finally, the same view as the first picture. I like both day and night views.

Interested in finding this place?  Check out this map:

This post is taking part in the always wonderful “Show Me Japan!”

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Filed under Japan, Kanagawa, Nishi-ku, Yokohama

Pregnant women and priority seats

Now that my fiancee and I are expecting a baby next year, I’ve been thinking a lot about priority seats on trains and buses.  They’re seats that are designated for the elderly, handicapped, injured, pregnant and mothers with young children.  While I notice that people give up their seats for the elderly, I often see that pregnant women are ignored.  It’s not hard for people to notice priority seats.  They’re a different colour and there are big signs indicating that they are priority seats.  People are obligated to give them up for the specified people.  Pregnant women I’ve known have mentioned that usually people don’t give up seats for them.  They suddenly pretend to be sleeping or so interested in their cell phone or book that they “don’t notice.”  The usual culprits are salarymen.  I regularly see women, both young and middle-aged, giving up their seats for the elderly and pregnant women.  However, businessmen seem to completely ignore them.  When my fiancee and I are riding on the train and some salaryman decides he’s too important to give up his seat for my fiancee, I think I’ll be tempted to do what I can to embarrass him.

Does anyone have any stories about this?

22 Comments

Filed under Daily Life

Big announcement

I usually don’t talk about my personal life on this blog.  I prefer to keep it all about Japan.  However, this announcement may affect this blog.  I don’t know if it will, but I hope to keep on posting regularly.  I will be busier, though.  As many people know, I have a fiancee here in Japan.  But the big news is that we’re expecting our first child early next year.  It’s a very exciting time, but it’ll also be a very busy time.  I most likely won’t be talking much about it, as I’d like to keep the details of my life private.  Friends and family will know, of course.  Well, that’s about it.  It’s going to be quite the adventure!  It’s kind of appropriate that I’m announcing this on Father’s Day.

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Filed under Daily Life

Exploring Japan: Shinjuku – March 22, 2010

Cherry blossoms were blooming, and I met a friend in Shinjuku.  We went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Office building and enjoyed taking some photographs.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Office building is the seat of Tokyo’s government, and has one of the highest observatories in Tokyo at 202 metres.  There are 2 observatories and provide a great view of Tokyo.  After that, we visited Shinjuku Chuo Park and Kumano Shrine.  Enjoy the pictures!

Two kids and their father looking out the window in the observatory.

A reflective building near Shinjuku Chuo Park.

Looking northwest toward the horizon.

Looking down to the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building.

Shinjuku has a big collection of skyscrapers.

The unusual building in the middle is the Tokyo Mode Gakuen building, which is one of the tallest educational buildings in the world.

In the middle is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building.

Here is part of Kumano Shrine's garden.

Kumano Shrine itself from the side.

This is near the back of the shrine.

This is a smaller shrine at Kumano Shrine.

Kumano Shrine from the front.

Here's another shrine building.

The main gate, or torii, of Kumano Shrine.

Here's the Tokyo Metropolitan Office Building from Shinjuku Chuo Park.

Cherry blossoms are blooming in the park.

Lots of cherry blossoms!

A great looking cherry tree.

Finally, some public art. Two ladybugs are staring at me.

This area is very easy to find.  It’s near Shinjuku station, and the tower is one of the most prominent in Tokyo.  But here’s a map:

This post is taking part in “Show Me Japan #30.”

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Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Exploring Japan: Tokyo Tower at night – March 21, 2010

On the same day that I visited Ueno Zoo, I went to Tokyo Tower.  It was nighttime, so there would be great night views of Tokyo.  Tokyo Tower is located in Minato Ward, near Roppongi, Azabu Juban, and many embassies.  Tokyo Tower is 333 metres tall, and is a larger replica of the Eiffel Tower.  It’s painted orange and white according to aviation laws.  It’s a TV antenna, but with the analog terrestrial TV broadcast signals ending next month, Tokyo Sky Tree is taking over for digital broadcasts.  There are two observation levels in Tokyo Tower.  The pictures below taken from the tower are on the lower deck.  Enjoy!

Tokyo Tower is brightly lit at night in this picture from down the street.

Looking way up in this closeup.

Looking way up! This is right at the bottom of the tower.

Tokyo looks great at night.

Lots of tall buildings.

Here's another view.

Sorry, this one was a bit blurry.

In Tokyo Tower, there's a window looking straight down. Can you do it?

Tokyo Tower isn’t hard to find.  It’s really tall.  But here’s a map of the area:

This post is taking part in “Show Me Japan #29!”

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Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Exploring Japan: Ueno Zoo’s Thai and Japanese architecture – March 21, 2010

Last year, I visited Ueno Zoo for the second time.  Most people know Ueno Zoo for its pandas, but how many people know about its Thai and historic Japanese architecture?  A relatively new addition to the zoo, the Thai Pavilion may seem out of place.

The Thai Pavilion in Ueno Zoo

But there’s a much more impressive structure nearby.  If you’ve visited the zoo, you may remember a 5 storey pagoda.  This pagoda is part of Kan’eiji Temple.  This temple was established in 1625, and at its height, occupied the entire area in the heights, as well as where Ueno Station is now.  It was huge.  There are several structures in Ueno Park that were part of the Kan’eiji complex, but most were destroyed.  In 1657, the Mereiki fire destroyed most of the complex, but then many new structures were built.  During the Battle of Ueno in 1868, most buildings were destroyed.  The temple’s main hall was actually transported from Kawagoe’s Kita-in Temple.  Some parts of the original temple that remain include the Toshogu Shrine and the 5 storey pagoda.  For more information, please read the Wikipedia page.

Kan'eiji's 5 storey pagoda is in Ueno Zoo. This is an original structure that survived the Battle of Ueno in 1868.

Here's a closer look at the pagoda. Most of Kan'eiji Temple was destroyed during the battle. Thankfully, the pagoda, which was built in the 17th century, still stands.

For a map of the area, please see below.  The pagoda is at the centre of the map.

Want to see more Japan?  See “Show Me Japan!”

18 Comments

Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Taito-ku, Tokyo