April 25, 2008

Golden Week and Movies

Golden Week* has come! Often abbreviated as GW, Golden Week is the longest holiday season in Japan from the end of April through the beginning of May. For many Japanese, it's time to go out, do something fun, go back to their hometowns, and/or travel abroad. Tourist places get very very crowded and highways becomes "low(-speed) ways." Golden Week is like a combination of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and maybe Thanksgiving in roughly the size of California with a population of around 127 million. Not so golden. Seriously.

I once went to Kamakura, Kanagawa, with my family during GW. We wanted to take a train to visit a temple to see the stature of Daibutsu, the Great Buddha. But the Enoden line Kamakura station was teeming with people. The two-car trains can't accommodate that many passengers. We were standing in line to get train tickets for about 30 minutes or so and ended up leaving there not being able to see Daibutsu...(The Enoden is a fun and scenic ride by the ocean, though. It's something you should try, but not during GW.)

Instead of going to chaotic sightseeing places, I'm planning to go to the middle of Tokyo this year, where streets and trains are much emptier than usual. One of the ideas that I come up with is to go see movies. A lot of movies will open during this holiday season, including "There Will Be Blood," "I'm Not There," and "The Bucket List."

When it comes to movies, the problem to live in Japan, a non-English speaking country, is the time lag. Although we have information on movies which already began showing in US, we have to wait for months until those will be released in Japan. (Many movies never come to Japan for some reasons like "Knocked Up".) For example, The Holiday opened on December 8, 2006 in US and UK. It finally arrived in Japan on March 24, 2007. It was kind of weird to see a snowy movie on a warm spring day.

I understand translation work takes so much time. There may be marketing strategies to release films according to Japanese holidays, which could cause the delay. However, on the Internet or TV, we can check out Top 10 movies in the same manner as Americans. So why not bridging the gap? Freshness matters.

Anyway, if I go see a movie in Tokyo, I can avoid the GW crowd at least.

*Golden Week is a Japanese term applied to the period containing the following public holidays:
April 29
Greenery Day, or Nature Day (みどりの日, Midori no hi?), until 2006
Shōwa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa no hi?), from 2007
May 3
Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日, Kenpō kinenbi?)
May 4
holiday† (国民の休日, Kokumin no kyūjitsu?), until 2006
Greenery Day, or Nature Day (みどりの日, Midori no hi?) (from 2007)
May 5
Children's Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no hi?), also known as Boys' Day (端午の節句, Tango no sekku?)

April 21, 2008

Studying is In-Part 1

Petunias are blooming, a crisp breeze is blowing, and I'm hoping to begin something new. Spring air makes me feel like learning. And I'm fortunate to live in Japan because studying(勉強benkyo) is in and helpful tips are everywhere.

New school term and fiscal year begin in April in this country. This is the season when young and old alike flock to bookstores, hoping to learn something new. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles, such as "Study Skills to Increase Income 10 Times", "Leverage Studying," "How to Study-Making the Most of Your Brain," and even "Study Hacks!(The title is in English. I didn't translate it)."

One of the new business trends is "study room." You may not believe this, but it's true. There are about 50 places offering charged study rooms in the Kanto region.* For a cubicle in Shinjyuku, Tokyo, it costs up to 23,000 yen per month(≈US$221 as of April 20, 2008). (Nihon Keizai Shimbun Newspaper*, evening edition, 4/19/2008) I myself go to a study room in Roppongi.

Any trend, including this study craze, experiences booms and busts. It seems studying is most popular ever throughout its history(at least to me). So why are many Japanese into studying now? In the next post, I will elaborate the story of why we are seeing the trend.

*The Kantō region (関東地方, Kantō-chihō) is a geographical area of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. The region encompasses seven prefectures which overlaps the Greater Tokyo Area: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kant%C5%8D_region)

*Nihon Keizai Shimbun (日本経済新聞, lit. Japan Economic Times), or Nikkei (日経, Nikkei) is a leading economic newspaper. (

April 15, 2008

Dipping My Toes in the Blogging Ocean

(The photo shown above was taken at Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo on April, 4.)

I already have my Japanese blog which I started about a month ago. Establishing the new habit, I've come to realize that blogging only in Japanese means I'm closed off to the world in a way. How many people around the world speak Japanese? Not so many. So I decided to blog in English to share thoughts and information with readers from the rest of the world.

This blog is about my daily life in Tokyo, Japan. I am a US college graduate who loves reading, writing, and photography. I also love beautiful things and delicious food. I'm going to focus on the current trends in Tokyo, trying to provide you with fresh, up-to-date, interesting information, which mass media may not cover. Japan is not all about anime, manga, Kyoto, etc. (Kyoto is my favorite city, though.) Take a virtual trip to Tokyo!

If you are learning Japanese, I think you should be proud of yourself for choosing one of the most difficult languages in the world. Struggling? Please visit my Japanese/English bilingual blog. I hope that will help you. :)


P.S. Strawberries are my all time favorite fruit, btw.