2012.10.24 garbage
More than anything else, unit pricing will be a huge driving force for people to reduce waste. This leads to less pollution and lower collection fees.

No one would deny that garbage will be reduced at first. But once people get over the initial shock. I'm skeptical about its long-lasting effects.

One obvious outcome of charging fees for garbage disposal is the increase of illegal dumping. That would actually be bad for the environment, as well as public health.

There will be cheaters to a certain extent, but I don't think it'll get out of hand if we set reasonable fees and raised fines on illegal dumping.
2012.10.23 garbage
Concerns for the environment and rising budgets have made many communities around the world introduce unit pricing for household waste. Under this system, individuals pay a volume-based fee by buying custom garbage bags, etc., instead of paying through taxes. About 60 percent of Japanese municipalities have adopted this, but public resistance is common.
2012.10.18 Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu was the first shogun and founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. He is, along with Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan's most renouned and influential military commanders. Since childhood, Ieyasu experienced hardships as a hostage. The way he survived his trials has moved Japanese people for centuries. Many business and political leaders admire Ieyasu because of his image as a man of endurance and fortitude.
Nikko Toshogu shrine, a World Herritage Site, is the mausoleum of Ieyasu.

Ieyasu's residential castle, Edo Castle, was built by Ota Dokan in 1457 and became the Imperial Palace in 1868 during the Meiji Restoration.

One of Ieyasu's grandsons, Tokugawa Mitsukuni, is the model for the protagonist of a TV samurai drama "Mitokomon."

Bandai Co., one of Japan's top toy producers, once sold a plastic figure model, Tokugawa Ieyasu Gundam, inspired by the popular TV anime show "Mobile Suit Gundam." Bandai dedicated the toy to Kunozan Toshogu shrine in Shizuoka where Ieyasu is enshrined.
2012.10.11 Kaidan
Listening to ghost stories and shivering with fear is a traditional way to stay cool in summer. These Japanese ghost stories or Kaidan have been passed on not only by word of mouth but in Kabuki traditional stage drama, rakugo traditional comic storytelling or kodan historical narratives. One of the best-known kaidan is the Ghost Story of Yotsuya.
The tragic heroine Oiwa was betrayed and almost fatally poisoned by her cheating husband. The poison didn't kill Oiwa but disfigured her face and she died in despair. The apparition of Oiwa haunted her husband.

Lafcadio Hearn, also known as Koizumi Yakumo, wrote "Kwaidan" in which he depicted yokai supernatural monsters such as rokurokubi and mujina. The former features a neck which stretches at night and the latter transforms itself into nopperabo whose face has no eyes, nose or mouth.

Recently, some TV and radio personalities narrate ghost stories for kaidan shows in bars, clubs and even civic halls.
2012.10.11 purikura
Purikura is a shortened version of purinto kurabu, which refers to print club or small photo strickers. Since its appearance in 1995, purikura has been hugely popular among young people, especially high school girls. Usually three or so people cram into a special automated photo booth and pose in whatever position they like. After taking some pictures, they customize the images by highlighting their eyes, coloring their hair or writing messages on a touch-or pen-sensitive screen. Purikura has captured such a large market because it is a combination of state-of-the-art photography and young playful minds.
プリクラは元々、「プリント倶楽部」の省略語で、英語のprint clubすなわち小さな写真シールを指す。

Purikura automated photo booths are usually found in game arcades.

Not only do purikura fans put strickers on favorite items such as cellphones, some young girls put them in special pocket notebooks.

Popular phrases written on purikura pictures are "I love you," "We are friends forever" and "Cute."
2012.08.29 Sapporo Ramen
Sapporo Ramen
In Japan, cities and regions have always tried to uutdo one another in creating unique and delicious dishes. This competition has given rise to the country's rich and eclectic food culture.

Ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan.
Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, is famous for its ramen. There is even a "ramen alley" - a small side street lined with ramen shops where the appetizing aroma of ramen pervades the air. Ramen is a noodle dish that originally came from China. Noodles, made primarily of wheat flour, are boiled and served in a flavorful soup, with various toppings. No precise figures exist, but there are thought to be 100,000 or even 200,000 ramen shops around Japan. And every shop tries to come up with something special. It's not an exaggeration to say that ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan today.

Sapporo ramen achieved mainstream success.
Across Japan, there are many regional variations of ramen. Fukushima Prefecture's Kitakata ramen and Fukuoka Prefecture's Hakata ramen are well known and popular. But Sapporo ramen is perhaps the best known and was the first regional ramen to cross over into mainstream success. These days, many shops like to try out original innovations, but the basic Sapporo style is this: chewy, curly noodles in a miso-based soup, topped with stir-fried bean sprouts and other vegetables.

Ramen noodles and a miso-based soup are a match made in heaven.
The Sapporo-style miso ramen first gained national recognition in the 1960s. Prior to that time, there had only been two main types of ramen: soy-sauce flavored and salt flavored. It was a ramen shop in Sapporo called Aji no Sanpei that developed a miso-based soup. The story goes something like this: At the restaurant, ownwer Omiya Morito sometimes offered a special menu at no extra charge to a certain group of customers - businessmen living apart from their wives. Omiya served them bowls of butajiru - a miso-flavored soup with pork and vegetables - along with ramen. One day, Omiya noticed that these businessmen were dipping the ramen noodles in the butajiru and they seemed to be enjoying this combination of flavors. and then, an idea struck him - yes, miso ramen! So he started serving miso ramen, and soon other shops in the area followed suit. Sapporo's miso ramen received coverage in magazines and other media, and became well known nationally. Today, there are over 700 ramen shops in the city of Sapporo. In Japan, cities and regions have always tried to outdo one another in creating unique and delicious dishes. This competition has given rise to the country's rich and eclectic food culture. Clearly, Sapporo has contributed to the immense popularity and diversity of ramen in Japan.
2012.08.28 ramen ラーメン
Although based on Chinese noodles, ramen has become a well-known Japanese food and is as globally popular as sushi. There are many ramen shops overseas.
Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, salt, water and eggs or kansui alkaline water.
The main flavors of ramen soup are soy sauce, salt, miso soybean paste or tonkotsu pork bones. Chashu thinly sliced roast pork, nori dried seaweed and green onions are common toppings. Different localities have different variations of ramen. Aspiring ramen chefs make great efforts to develop their own tastes so they can open their own shops. Successful shops often have long lines of customers.


They use chicken bones, pork bones, kelp, shaved dried bonito or small dried sardines to make the ramen stock.

There are some buildings which house many ramen shops. These buildings are popular with ramen fans.

Some areas of Japan have a high concentration of shops and are called "ramen gekisenku" or "fiercely contested areas."
2012.08.11 回転ずし

Kaiten-zushi is a conveyor-belt sushi bar where plates with sushi are delivered on a rotating conveyor belt. Customers sit down at a counter or a table and take their pick from a steady stream of a variety of sushi. The colors and patterns of the plates tell the customers the price of the sushi, usually ranging from about 100 to 500 yen. It is very popular not only in Japan but in many other counties because customers can easily choose healthy, inexpensive and delicious sushi.

Kaiten-zushi was born in Osaka in 1958 and became popular after it was exhibited at the Japan World Exposition held in Osaka in 1970.

Customers can place orders directly to the sushi chefs behind the counter as well as choose from the conveyor belt.

Tea is called "agari" and soy sauce "murasaki" in sushi shoptalk.
For many Japanese, it is customary to sometimes attend afterwork parties.
At these parties, your boss may say it's "bureiko", meaning ranking doesn't count while drinking, but it usually does. You should wait to sip your beer until the boss says "kanpai" first.
At most parties, everyone pours beer or sake for everyone except themselves.

Nenko-joretsu is the system of promoting employees based on their age or the length of their employment. The advantage of this system is to give a higher salary level to older employees and to provide them with more experience. Partly because of this system, Japanese salarymen have long believed in shushin-koyo, or lifetime employment , in other words, a promise to have a job at the same company until they retire. Recently this type of system has been changing as, with nenko-joretsu, younger people are not as motivated to do their jobs, which is causing problems for the companies.