Browsing articles in "Features"
Feb 1, 2013
rebecca

Takao Trick Art Museum

Realism, the dominant artistic genre until comparatively recently, has always relied on trickery to achieve its effects. But sometimes being deceived is a pleasure, especially when we see that it’s not just us, but others too, and we also learn something about how the deception works. This is the premise of the Takao Trick Art Museum (TTAM), definitely a fun place to visit and, given its location at the foot of Mount Takao, an interesting alternative to literally taking a hike.

 

Takao Trick Art Museum

Photo courtesy of C. B. Liddell

“Fun and art!” Well, that doesn’t sound right. We all know that art is some kind of substitute religion that we are meant to take devilishly seriously. Visiting museums in Japan is often akin to popping into a church during a funeral—shuffle past the pictures, look reverential, and whatever you do don’t talk or laugh. At TTAM, cameras are allowed and you can ham it up posing for pictures; laughing is expected; and don’t worry about touching stuff: this place is hands-on.

Meanwhile, the museum workers in their cute, airhostess-style uniforms are always ready to help and several of them speak English as well.

The museum has an ancient Egyptian theme, with rooms painted to look like interiors of pyramids and temples. These can be viewed from different angles, including an upper floor, to reveal different optical effects. There are also various artworks and other items that first amaze and then shed light on how our eyes and minds work. One of the most effective is a spiral set next to a painting with clouds. Once you have observed the spiral spinning for 15 seconds you turn to the painting and incredibly the clouds start to swirl.

Another fascinating attraction is a room where people seem to become giants when they stand in one corner and midgets when they stand in another corner—at least when viewed from the correct viewpoint. Such tricks reveal the rules of perspective perfected by the great artists of the Renaissance.

Although there is a serious and academic side to the laws of optics, TTAM’s approach is to keep it fun and not to bother with the science too much. The museum’s perfect demographic is probably young couples on dates or families with young kids. This gives the museum a rather cheesy or corny atmosphere—a hint of a travelling fair or a seaside amusement park like Coney Island. There are also some lame exhibits and the museum is far from slick. But such weaknesses actually make the place more endearing.

If you want a museum that will engage and involve you, and you are not afraid of a little tackiness, then the TTAM is a great day out, and, unlike most museums, when you get home you’ll be able to flood your social networks with a lot of daft pictures showing you kissing fish, fending off crocodiles, or falling out of temples in the sky.

Tokyo Trick Art Museum, 1786 Takaomachi, Hachioji-shi. Tel: 042-667-1081. Nearest stn: Takao.www.trickart.jp/en

Jan 30, 2013
rebecca

Seeking out the sea bass in Tokyo Bay

An arch of manmade islands and industrial canals stretches from the southern end of Yokohama all the way up past Tokyo and

Nice catch in Tokyo Bay

Photo courtesy of Akiyuki Mori

back down to Kisarazu City. The shore is lined with countless logistics facilities and is largely inaccessible by land. To a certain subset of outdoor enthusiasts, the fortress-like structures lining the canals along with the barnacle encrusted surf breakers and jetties—and the open water that lies beyond—are a gold mine for their favorite pastime.

Lateolabrax japonicus, better known as the Japanese sea perch or sea bass, is a prolific game fish found in great numbers all over Tokyo Bay. Most would-be recreational anglers who come to Japan from abroad never get wind of the existence of this world class fishery, let alone its size. After all, there is next to no information related to sport fishing in Japan published in English or other languages. But for residents of the Kanto area, a day spent fishing for sea bass takes less time, and is in many cases, less expensive than heading to the ski slopes, hiking trails, or popular surf breaks.

THE GEAR

Getting into sea bass fishing requires an investment in equipment, but it need not be astronomical. Items like a personal floatation device and fishing rod can often be borrowed from guides, but as a minimum first-time anglers should show up to the dock with their own wet-weather gear, hat, and sunglasses.

Lures are available at one of the many tackle shops in the Kanto area like Sansui and Johshuya, but may also be purchased directly from the guide in some cases. Fishing is just as addictive as any other outdoor pursuit and anglers are known to lay out some serious cash for slick gear and trips once they get a taste of the action.

Nowadays sea bass are primarily targeted on artificial lures, not all that different from those used for catching largemouth bass or perch in freshwater. Saltwater fly tackle in the 6-8 weight range will also do the job if the fish are feeding at the surface.

Japanese tackle is world renowned for its lightweight and high-quality construction. A good few enthusiasts with the financial means make shopping trips to Tokyo exclusively to buy JDM gear to use in their home countries. Prices can run into the hundreds of thousands of yen for a full outfit of rods, reels, and accessories, but on the cheap end, a pretty good sea-bass set up can be purchased brand new for as little as ¥25,000. Most anglers starting out borrow their tackle from the skipper until they are sure they want pursue the sport on a regular basis.

THE PREY

Sea bass are a rugged species, which thrives in most coastal environments, including rivers and shallow tidal zones. It’s not

Fish out of water

Photos courtesy of Akiyuki Mori

uncommon to see them hanging out in the shadows of narrow drainage canals in built-up areas of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Depending on the time of year, sea bass can be caught near numerous ship berths, platforms, and bridges, or from grassy flats and rocky reefs. Exactly where and what time of day to wet a line depends on a confluence of tides, baitfish activity, water temperature, and the lifecycle of the sea bass themselves. The fish migrate frequently, and are sensitive to fishing pressure and tidal movement, but there are lots for the taking at almost any time of year. On a good day, a group of four anglers can easily catch and release over a hundred fish.

Fall is the season avid sea-bassers look forward to, when the bass gorge on anything that moves to fatten up as they migrate from the shallows to deeper water in preparation to spawn.

This is the season to make trophy catches, and while it becomes easy to get into a school of average-size fish that bite on every cast, experienced anglers tend to avoid the frenzy to focus on points that hold only monsters.

Japanese sea bass can grow to just over a meter in length, but specimens that size are extremely rare, so most avid anglers make a goal of breaking ninety centimeters a few times in their lives. It’s not such a tall order to fill, but requires time on the water and a higher than average sense of finesse.

THE REST

Tokyo Bay as a whole has a wide range of marine habitats—from shallow flats covered with grass and shell beds to a deepwater zone frequented by pelagic sharks. There is also a wide variety of baitfish on which middle to top of the food chain predators like sea bass can feed. They are by far the most popular lure fishing target, but guides can opt to pursue other game fish when conditions are right.

Every summer the Kuroshio (black current) running along Japan’s Pacific coast meanders in the direction of Tokyo Bay, bringing with it a variety of pelagic baitfish and predators. Most noticeable are the schools of dorado, shiira in Japanese, which can be taken on slightly heavier lure tackle. Dorado congregate near buoys, flotsam, and tide lines in large numbers and hunt in packs. Under the right conditions anglers can enjoy sight casting for these slender bodied fish that can jump over a meter above the ocean surface when attempting to get unhooked.

Provided there is a large enough concentration of zooplankton, the mouth of the bay may host schools of large sardines, which means big tuna are not far behind. In recent years catches as high as 70kg have been made in the waters where Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay meet. Throughout the year schools of other pelagics like Spanish mackerel and yellowtail also enter the lower reaches of the bay.

Back up north, anglers can pursue a variety of rockfish commonly referred to as mebaru or kasago, on ultra-light lure tackle. These fish hold tight against structure and typically feed after sundown, which makes fishing for them an after-five affair. Compared to sea bass, rockfish also require a bit more concentration and finesse, a challenge many anglers appreciate.

Sport fishing

Photos courtesy of Akiyuki Mori

THE GUIDES

Although occasionally fishable in small numbers from shore, experienced anglers will tell you the best way to pursue these fish is to ride with one of the numerous Tokyo Bay sea bass guides who utilize speedy skiffs equipped with all the necessary electronics and gear for a successful day of fishing. The guides know their stuff, and offer their services at a reasonable price. If you can afford a night on the town having food and pints with your mates in Shibuya, you will have no trouble paying for your cut of a sea bass charter.

Around the world there are many watersheds seeing declines in fish stocks, which is making times tough, especially tough for sport fishing-related businesses. Despite the absence of sport fishing regulations in Japan, the sea bass fishery thrives, partly due to the species not being widely targeted by commercial fishermen, but also due to a desire among the guides and their patrons to practice sustainable fishing. Guides do not outright prohibit their patrons from keeping their catch, but encourage them to keep only one or two for the skillet and release the rest.

Of the roughly two-dozen full time sea bass guides operating in Tokyo Bay, Akiyuki Mori is perhaps the only fluent English speaker. After getting hooked on chasing striped bass in New England during his college days he made his return to Japan fully intent on making a living as a guide. Weather permitting, he spends nearly every day combing the waters of Tokyo Bay, taking clients from his base in Isogo, Yokohama to as far as necessary to put them on fish. The community of professional sport anglers in Japan is chock full with rowdy lad-ish types and prima donnas, but Aki is very humble about his skill set. He claims not to be an expert, but his regular clients will attest that he’s got a knack for finding fish that few possess. Readers interested in getting on the water with Aki should contact him via his home page: http://fishtokyo.com.

THE CATCH

Sea bass are great eating but because they are known to migrate in and out of less than pristine watersheds it’s suggested that anglers inspect any keeper size specimens for healthy features such as a white belly, silvery grey flank and clean gill area.

The pre-spawn bite starts mid to late October and lasts until late December or early January. During these two months both new and experienced anglers can expect to lose count of how many fish they put on the boat as they learn the finer points of the Tokyo Bay sea bass fishery and make some lasting memories.

Abdel Ibrahim is an avid sport fisherman and custom tackle designer from New Orleans, Louisiana, currently residing in the Shonan area of Kanagawa. He has fished all over Japan during his twelve years here and chronicles his fishing experiences on his personal homepage: http://theangler-gpc.com

Dec 27, 2012
Ben

New Year’s Bites: Have an oishii oshogatsu

It’s been unkindly referred to as “o-retchi” in some circles, so let’s face it—osechi ryori is not everyone’s cup of green tea. What to do if you’re one of those in the blergh camp? Metropolisinvestigates additions and alternatives to the Japanese New Year menu.

Solution 1: Order in

Whether you’re an atrocious cook, you’re pressed for time or have always wanted to eat at a fancy schmancy restaurant but never gotten around to it, take-out osechi is the answer for you. Whether ordering in from your local supermarket, Natural House (for the organic foodies among us) or one of Tokyo’s major department stores, there’s a jubako, or specially prepared box set, for every taste and budget.

If money is no object, why not splurge and order osechi from one of Tokyo’s top hotels or restaurants? Internationally renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa may have garnered international plaudits for his signature black cod in miso and his blending of Japanese cuisine with South American ingredients, but a ¥50,400 jubako from Nobu Tokyo contains seemingly more traditional fare. A similarly priced ¥52,500 jubako from Toutouan is presented within a stalk of green bamboo and adheres to the aesthetics of the restaurant, which is on the premises of an old family mansion passed down since the Edo Period.

Not all jubako are as costly. Prices generally range from ¥10,000 and it’s usually possible to mix and individually select some items to make the meal more your own, or you can order mini osechi instead.

A number of stores this year are also promoting ingredients and dishes from the Tohoku region; Takashimaya’s Higashi Nihon Gambaro Osechi (¥21,000) highlights regional delicacies such as Miyagi Prefecture oysters in olive oil and buri (yellowtail) teriyaki from Aomori Prefecture.

Solution 2: Look to regional fare

Perhaps one of the other prefectures holds the key to your osechi mojo. The opportunity to explore Japan’s regional culinary prowess is readily available through the bowl of soup served for breakfast on New Year’s Day: ozoni. Ingredients vary widely, but a piece of omochi (rice cakes made of steamed, then pounded glutinous rice) is almost always included. In eastern Japan omochi is cut into squares, while in western Japan round omochi is more common. Some areas add sweet red bean-paste, while others add miso, shrimp, duck, oysters and various kinds of vegetables.

But there are other dishes that feature prominently in local osechi repertoire. When researching her charity e-book on Tohoku cuisine, Kibo: Brimming With Hope, Elizabeth Andoh was astonished to learn that squid jerky and carrot strips (pictured; see recipe online) was the one, non-negotiable dish prominent in many a local jubako.

Solution 3: Add a personal touch

In keeping with the tradition of featuring red and white foodstuffs—said to represent the lucky colors of the Japanese flag—interpret some of your own foods into the jubako. Try a bocconcini and tomato caprese-style salad, or for a real touch of fusion, replace the cheese with artisanal tofu. Smoked salmon white bread sandwiches, crusts removed, English style, is another easy option.

By: Jane Kitagawa

Dec 21, 2012
Ben

New Year’s Osechi Ryori Boxes Explained

Trying to find somewhere open on and after January 1, when the New Year holidays have shut doors all around Japan, can be trying. Hence the tradition of osechi ryori, or seasonal food, dishes targeted at providing sustenance over the laidback days at home. Most can be prepared ahead of time, lasting for days when kept in a cool environment.

Like everything else in Japan, osechi ryori can be bought packaged exquisitely in deluxe boxes called jubako. At department stores such as Takashimaya, late October sees the spectacle of the first day of pre-order, when lined-up customers stampede inside to snap up the coveted limited-edition boxes. These tend to include offerings from Michelin-grade and other award-winning chefs, top-class hotels, and famous ryotei (luxurious Japanese restaurants)—and can fetch up to ¥200,000 per box. For those without a six-figure salary however, local supermarkets and conbini also sell—more affordable—box sets. Some mix in Chinese and Western elements, while others highlight regional cuisine.

Every year has its trends, and this one is no different. Look out for a proliferation of low-calorie options, and “yawaraka osechi”— soft foods for elderly customers.

COMMON COMPONENTS

  • Tazukuri—Candied dried sardines, formerly used as fertilizer in rice paddies, hence their other name gomame (“50,000 grains of rice”)
  • Kazunoko—Herring roe simmered in soy and dashi broth, symbolizing fertility
  • Kuromame—Simmered sweet black beans, a pun on the word “mame” for diligence and hard work in the upcoming year
  • Kohaku namasu—Pickled, red Kyoto carrots and strips of white daikon make up the celebratory colors of red and white
  • Kamaboko—Steamed fish cakes, also in the nationalistic colors
  • Kuri kinton—Mashed sweet potato with sweet chestnut, the kanji is a play on prosperity
  • Yude ebi—Boiled shrimp, whose bent backs refer to having a long life (check out some elderly on the bus for a visual explanation)
  • Kobumaki—Kelp, often wrapped around herring or salmon. A play on the word “yorokobu,” for happiness in the home
  • Tai—Sea bream; a play on the congratulatory greeting “omedetai”
  • Sato imo—Taro root, symbolizing a great number of descendents, from the way the little potato-like vegetables proliferate
  • Renkon—Lotus root, the holes of which allow us to see clearly into our future
  • Daidai—Bitter orange, whose name is a homonym for future generations

Look out for spice packets for steeping in sake to make o-toso. The spice pack looks like a tea bag and is filled with herbs including cinnamon and dried sansho berries, and produces a delicious drink for New Year’s Day, thought to stave off illness during the winter season.

by Yukari Sakamoto

Nov 1, 2012
Ben

International Supermarkets in Tokyo

Japanese supermarkets are some of the best in the world in terms of quality. From the fresh fish, to the great vegetables, and all the ready to eat treats there’s not much more that could be asked. That is unless you’re looking to bake a birthday cake, getting ready for a traditional western Sunday dinner, or just something as simple as cold cuts aka sandwich meats.

Whatever the taste that is being looked for here is a list of 5 of some popular international stores or chains in Tokyo offering international ingredients and treats.

Kinokuniya Supermarkets

Now one of the larger chains in Japan Kinokuniya was founded over 100 years ago. They also have a long history of bringing international tastes to Tokyo, being the first to internationally fly French cheese to Japan by air freight.
Download a full English listing at their website

Nissin World Delicatessen

Renowned for what they call their “Meat Rush” and returned to for a floor full of worldwide wines, Nissin is a great choice for a weekend excursion to restock a freezer full of prime cuts.
Visit Nissin’s site for more info

Kaldi Coffee Farm

While the name says coffee there’s a lot more to be had at this countrywide chain. From international candy to taco shells and salsa, Don’t expect a full grocery experience, but do stop in for a quick snack from back home!
Visit Kaldi’s site for more info

Seijo Ishii

Another of the larger chains within Japan Seijoishii has great locations including one right at the base of Roppongi hills. While there site is all in Japanese if you ask a local friend for a Seijoishii they’ll surely be able to send you in the right direction.
View Seijoishii’s Store Directory Using Google Translate

National Azabu

With 70% of shoppers coming from overseas you know they’ve got to be good. Make sure to check out either of their great locations in Denenchofu or Hiroo.
See their access map on to their two branches

Sep 28, 2012
Ben

10 Early Years Tokyo Schools For Kids & Tots

If you’re planning to move and have children, especially young ones, finding a home within distance of the school you’d like them to attend is always a high priority.

In order to help you make your decision easier we’ve brought together 10 English speaking schools. So without further ado, and in no particular order here are the schools, there websites, and a little about them:

International School of the Sacred Heart • Hiroo

Following kindergarten this is an all girl’s school, but prior to that they offer a great system that also emphasizes computer literacy at a young age.

In talking about their program the school’s Principal emphasized their extended classrooms:

We have an extensive Open Area which extends the classroom experiences allowing the children to experience dramatic play, painting, handcrafts, water and sand exploration and practical life activities…

Visit ISSH’s website

J’s International School • Azabu-Juban

A great early years school for “Little Lambs, Busy Bees, Ready Rabbits, & Clever Cats!”

If their fun naming style doesn’t tell you about them then hopefully one of their student’s parents can:

…You all made me feel so comfortable because I knew that Kai was enjoying his days. Sometimes he would even complain, “How come I never get to stay late!” When your child doesn’t want to return home at end of an already long day, then you know he’s had a great day!

Visit J’s website

Joy to the World American International School • Bunkyo-ku

A great international school that even offers a Summer in Hawaii program!

About their pre-kindergarten program they had this to say:

Pre-Kindergarten has two main goals: first, to guide students in their transition from home life to school life, and second, to provide students with the social and academic skills needed for Kindergarten. These goals are achieved with careful consideration of each students needs and abilities

Visit Joy to the World’s website

Sesame International Preschool • Hiroo

Sesame stands for: Smile Esteem Spirit Appreciation Manners Equality

In writing about what makes them different they said:

…what sets Sesame apart are our kind hearted teachers. Almost all of our student’s parents comment on the home-like feeling… We believe that children are only limited by a lack of experiences and benefit most from an increase in opportunities…

Visit Sesame’s website

Alpha Kids Square, Club, & Academy • Tokyo, Kansai, & Kyushu

Alpha is a large children’s pre-school that also leans towards being a day care provider.

In their Mission Statement they say:

We provide the following that help “healthy growth of children”, “social prosperity”, and “prosperity of employees and families”.
●The substantial childcare and early educational programs
●Esteem of child’s individuality and promotion of creativity with help from our staff members…

Visit Alpha’s website

Bilingual Kids International Preschool • Sakurazutsumi & Sakai

BKI is very proud of their Reggio Emilia approach to education and development of children.

In regards to what sets them apart they had this to say:

…we do not assume what your child may like to learn about, we simply uncover their interests and then follow them to wherever they may lead us! Our school truly believes that “The mind forgets, but the heart always remembers!”

…with our Head Office/School located inside a beautiful, green, leafy park

Visit BKI’s website

ASIJ Early Learning Center • Roppongi

ASIJ is one of the most well known international schools in Japan with their main campus located in Chofu, but their “Early Learning Center” being located in the very accessible Roppongi.

In a message from their director she described their approach as follows:

…Children are encouraged to explore, manipulate, create, and construct things in their environment. The cognitive and social development of children is best encouraged through collaboration with others, discussion, discovery of the “how” and “why” of actions, and developing personal meaning through the application of what is learned…

Visit ASIJ’s website

The British (Primary) School in Tokyo • Shibuya

This great school offering a curriculum from 3 years of age all the way to graduation all using the British method of education.

The head of the primary school had this to say about their curriculum:

…with the wealth of extra-curricular activities, we strive to develop potential from within, encouraging each student to grow in confidence, flourish academically and develop a life-long love of learning

Visit BST’s website

The Montessori School of Tokyo • Azabu-Juban

This is one of the premiere schools in Tokyo offering an education in the Montessori method.

In describing their method and classrooms they had this to say:

When you walk into a Montessori classroom, the first thing you will notice is that everyone is busy and interested in what they are doing. One child is counting beads, others are working together on a puzzle map, and in the corner of the room a teacher is introducing a small group of children to a new language activity.

Visit MST’s website

Komozawa Park International School • Todoroki

A preschool and kindergarten located next to one of Japan’s biggest parks.

In talking about the benefits of being so close to the Olympic park KPIS had wrote this:

We strongly believe in the value of free play, and Komazawa Olympic Park serves as a large open classroom where our students enjoy the freedom of running, tumbling, and playing around as well as climbing trees. The fallen leaves, twigs, and rocks provide natural materials for our students to stimulate their creativity,

Visit KPIPK’s website

Sep 14, 2012
Ben

“Please Do It” Public Transportation Guide

If you’ve lived in Japan for sometime you’ve doubtless seen these PSA posters, but f you’re new to Japanese public transportation they provide a great crash course on what to do and what not to do, with some being a little too much and others being too obvious.


This is probably the golden rule and one to not be broken, absolutely do not talk on your cell phone in a train or subway. Keep it on the platform or of course at home.

 
This is a growing problem, and unless you have the greatest taste in music one that you’ll want to be aware of. You might even want to do some tests at home with your headphones to see what’s the loudest you should go on the train.


The meaning on this one is likely “No diving into the train,” but maybe this one would be better suited for those that dive into a rush hour train after getting a running start. Still don’t delay the train by running through closing doors.


The eating is a clear no go area in public transportation in Japan, but the main one in this is the backpack, which you’ll find far less common in Japan, and maybe for this exact reason. The solution to this problem comes later…


Even if you’re sick with love priority seats are for the elderly, injured, parents, and people who look like they just need them. If you sit down when no one is around and they’re empty just make sure to remain aware of just where you’re sitting. In fact no matter where you’re sitting it’s not uncommon for people to offer their seats to the elderly and those in need.


This one was touched on in the last three, but seriously no eating on the train. No elbowing people in the face while doing, and most definitely absolutely no ramen.

And now for a master poster with nearly every “bad” action on it, including sitting on the ground, especially near the doors. Doing makeup (not completely sure about this one but it’s one that’s being really stressed lately. Eating and messiness. Lastly one that smartphones have helped solve a lot, the dreaded large format newspaper reading rider.


And now we take a turn for the positive, starting with a sequel to the backpack problem before, and showing the proper method for carrying a bulky bag on the train.

Also despite it possibly being less common to see in Japan, due to the more reserved culture, please don’t hesitate to offer help to those who may need it.

This one may be easy to brake on accident and take some practice, but make sure not to sit wide, not to place anything on the seats, and the part that takes practice is being able to spot the mostly invisible grid of seats.

There's many more of these posters, in fact 36 total on Gakuranman’s blog,so whether you’re interested in seeing the pictures, reading the text, or learning more about Japanese public transportation manners make sure to head over there.

Aug 17, 2012
Ben

Four Beaches Not Far From Tokyo

When most people think of Tokyo they don’t think of beaches, but with hot summers they’ll soon end up in one’s dreams. Luckily living on an island a beach is never too far away, and only a short drive or train ride away.

Since the weekend is nearly here though this guide will be short highlighting only four beaches. All of these great weekend spots are within an hour or two of Tokyo and make for a great one day vacation.

photo: Peter Lidell

Just south of Tokyo is Kamakura, a great historical town that also has a few beaches. Along with the beaches are the beach front bars that have a reputation as both great day and nightspots… read more about Kamakura

 

photo: Catherine Hagar

Just a little further south of Kamakura is Chigasaki, a small beach town famous for opening Japan’s first surf shop. All the beaches aren’t just for surfing though with some great spots for families and swimmers alike… read more about Chigasaki

 

photo: Franki Webb

If it’s Cancun, or a Latin American vibe, that’s being sought then Onjuku in Chiba is just the beach! With lobsters in sombreros, Mexican restaurants, and more this is as close as you’ll get to Mexico in Japan… read more about Mexico Japan aka Onjuku

 

photo: Bryan Baier

Sometimes in Japan white sand and blue water can be hard to find, but only 2.5 hours south of Tokyo is Tatadohama beach. With its beautiful water its sure to remind of Okinawa and Hawaii…  read more about Tatadohama

___________________

Those are just 4 of the many great and convenient beaches surrounding Tokyo. Make sure to not just read about them but also plan a getaway this weekend!

Aug 3, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Top 10 Japanese Travel Destinations for Foreigners

One of Japan’s greatest strengths is its wide variety of locations and scenery. In fact, there are so many that the average traveler can only squeeze in just a few spots into their itinerary. That is why we have compiled a list of this year’s most popular and talked about destinations to help ease your decision making process. You simply can’t go wrong no matter which ones you choose!

Continue reading »

Jul 20, 2012
Francesco Agresti

Learn How to Read and Write Kana

Japanese is notorious for being one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. This is mainly due to the complex writing system, where three different scripts are used:

                   Hiragana – ひらがな                Katakana – カタカナ                Kanji – 漢字

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