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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Osaka's "Village" - Gay or Straight - for a Rip Roaring Extravaganza!

大阪 ゲイ・バー ヴィレージ

A drag queen takes the stage at Osaka gay bar "Village."
Drag fun a go-go at gay bar Village, Osaka.
Just five minutes or so a walk from Osaka or Umeda Stations lies Doyama, arguably the biggest gay center in western Japan. While Doyama is not exclusively gay – some of the multi-floor, beehive-like buildings have both straight and gay small bars – suffice to say that it is gay enough that you can’t miss it. There’s something for everyone’s tastes here, be it a laid back bar, karaoke, a bustling lounge, or a full on club. And then there’s Village.

A sexy athletic work out on stage at Village, a gay bar in Doyama, Osaka, Japan.
Athletic fun a-gogo at gay bar "Village," Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Village is, by Japanese standards, a cavernous space, clearly capable of handling at least a hundred revelers. One part of the place has tables and places for easy conversation, but the real action is at the bar. With two lengths of bar joined at a right angle, it’s a big, bustling center of conversation. However, the real big and bustling sight to see lies behind the bar, up on stage. It is here where, on Saturday nights, a raucous, no holds barred, cross dressing celebration of life gets underway.

The colorful space of gay bar Village in Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Pinks and purples a-gogo at Village, Doyamacho, Osaka.
If you’ve been to “lady boy” bars in Thailand, reset your expectations, because Village is nothing like that. For starters, there’s no sudden crotch flashes or the like, which is sure to put certain, perhaps less gay, visitors at ease. Instead, it’s part comedy, part dance, and a lot of camp. It’s just plain fun, if not 100% clean fun. Let’s call it 90% clean.

But lest you think differently, rest assured that Village is not just about the shows. With a great mix of people: Japanese, foreign visitors, men and women, gay and straight, there’s truly a rainbow of people to get to know! It’s a very friendly vibe, so even if you go alone, just put a smile on your face, and before you know it you will have made a gaggle of friends.

Budget glam drag at Village, an LGBT bar in Osaka, Japan.
Budget glam a-gogo at Village, LGBT bar in Doyama, Osaka, Japan.
The stage performers are also your bartenders, and they love chatting. There’s a bit of English spoken as well, so don’t you worry one little bit about that!

A little trivia: Village is run by the godfather of gay bars in Osaka. He’s started or been a part of many big name bars in the area, and everyone in the business knows him. He’s around 70 now, but still behind the bar at Village.

The owner of Village, a veteran face of the gay bar scene in Osaka.
The "Godfather of Gay Bars in Oasaka."

Your first drink includes some snacks, and runs 1000 yen for visitors. Successive drinks are 700 yen each. Shows are on Saturdays only, one at 11pm (-ish) and one at some point later in the evening. It will all probably be a colorful blur by then, so there’s no point in getting specific about times, but for what it’s worth, they claim it starts at 2am. On nights with no shows, there is always karaoke at the ready.

Comic camp fun at Village, a gay bar in Doyamacho, Osaka, Japan.
Comic camp fun a-gogo at Village.
Village has a fabulous website to get you in the mood: http://www.village.jpn.com/  You can find the club on the second floor at 10-3 Doyama, Kita-ku, Osaka


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Friday, July 29, 2016

Tsukuba Bus Station

つくばバスセンター

The bus station (Tsukuba Center) in Tsukuba is opposite Tsukuba Station. Both local and highway buses depart from Tsukuba Center. The ticket office also serves as the Tourist Information Center.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.


Local buses are operated by Kanto Tetsudo (Kantetsu) and run to Tsuchiura Station in Tsuchiura, Mt. Tsukuba, Wellness Park, Hitachi-no-Ushiku Station, Ushiku Station, Kenkyugakuen Station, Sakura Newtown, Tenchnopark-oho, Tsukuba University Hospital, Driving License Center, Shimotsuma Station, Ishige Station, Aeon Mall Tsukuba, Kenchikukenkyujo, Space Center (Uchu Senta-) and Daigaku Nishi.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.


There are also long-distance highway buses to Tokyo (via Ueno Station to Tokyo Station 90 minutes), Narita and Haneda airports (both airports about 1 hour 40 minutes) and Mito Station in Mito.

Buses to Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland begin at Tsuchiura Station and call at Tsukuba Center on the way. There are 3 buses daily from Tsukuba at 6.30am, 7.50am and 3.20pm (95 minutes; 1,540 yen).

There are overnight buses to Osaka (Dream Go; 9,900 yen), Kyoto (Yokappe Go; 9,100 yen) and Nagoya.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.


Kantetsu buses to Kyoto and Osaka start at Mito Station South Exit, call at Tsuchiura Station, Kyoto Station Hachijoguchi Exit, Osaka Station, Namba Station West Exit (OCAT) and Abeno Harukas. The bus departs at 10.53pm from Tsukuba Center arriving at Kyoto Station at 6.17am and Osaka Station at 7.13am.

The last bus to Tokyo from Tsukuba Station is at 12.30am daily. The buses to Narita Airport begin at Tsuchiura Station and then stop at Tsukuba Center. The first bus leaves Tsukuba Center at 5.20am with the last bus at 6.50pm. The fare is presently 2,200 yen.

Tsukuba Bus Station, Tsukuba, Ibaraki.


Tsukuba Bus Center (in Japanese)

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum

奈良町からくりおもちゃ館

The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum in the Naramachi district of Nara is a fun, free museum dedicated to the ingenious wooden toys of the Edo Period. The museum is situated in an old machiya townhouse that was previously a restaurant. The building dates from 1890 that was restored in 2012. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum is operated by a local NPO.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.


17th and 18th century Japanese kids didn't have smartphones and Pokemon Go so entertained themselves with a number of hand-made, mechanical automata (karakuri) that have been reproduced by a history professor at Nara University and are on display inside this traditional house.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.


As well as the wooden toys on display that you are encouraged to play with by the friendly volunteer staff. the museum also displays original drawings, illustrations and wood block prints (ukiyo-e) of various games from Edo times.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara, Japan.

There are around 600 exhibits on show at the museum and visitors can handle about 30 of them. The Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum also holds regular events and workshops where participants can learn how to make their own wooden toys. These are a lot of fun! The next free events are on the weekend of August 6-7 from 10am-4pm.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara.


At the back of the tatami-floored museum is a small garden you can take a look at from the inside of the building. The garden is planted with seasonal plants such as camellia, plum, cherry, rhododendron and hydrangea.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum (Official site in Japanese)
7, Inyocho, Nara 630-8338
Tel: 0742 26 5656
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Wednesday
Admission: Free

The museum is about 10 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station.

Naramachi Karakuri Toy Museum, Nara, Japan.


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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wellness Park Tsukuba

つくばウエルネスパーク

Wellness Park in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture is a sports and leisure center adjacent to Tsukuba "Clean Center" - a euphemism for the city's incinerator.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.


Power from the plant provides energy to heat the swimming pool and onsen in the park which also includes outdoor soccer fields with both artificial and natural turf.

The main sports' center which includes the pool and onsen also has a gymnasium where residents can take a variety of fitness courses including stretching, yoga and aerobics. The pool also has regular swimming classes.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

There is also a large lawn area, running track, mini golf course and dog run.

Wellness Park is north of Tsukuba Station and can be reached by regular buses from the bus station in just over 20 minutes.

Wellness Park Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Tsukuba Wellness Park
Tsukuba City Yamaki 1562
300-4234
Tel: 029 867 5210


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Japan News This Week 24 July 2016

今週の日本

Japan News.
From Japan, a ‘Chicago’ You Probably Haven’t Seen
New York Times

Pokemon Go finally launches in Japan
BBC

Japan's $1m fertility gambit to help women become mothers
Guardian

Okinawa protests erupt as U.S. helipad construction resumes
Japan Times

Hinin Taiheiki: The Paupers’ Chronicle of Peace
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

The countries with the highest shares of organic agricultural land under cultivation in 2013:

1. Falkland Islands (Malvinas): 36.3%
2. Lichtenstein: 30.9%
3. Austria: 19.4%
4. Sweden: 16.4%
5. Estonia: 16.2%
6. Samoa: 14.3%
7. Switzerland: 12.7%
8. Sao Tome and Principe: 12.%
9. Latvia: 11.2%
10. Czech Republic: 11.1%
11. Italy: 10.8%

??. Japan: 0.8%
??. USA: 0.7%

Source: FIBL

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan

ポケモンGO

Pokemon Go finally launched in the land of its birth yesterday and there are already thousands of young people in Japan playing the addictive game.

Pokemon Go In Japan

There is lots of cool and cute Pokemon Go merchandise on sale in Japan that is not available elsewhere in the world.

If you would like to source Pokemon Go goods on Yahoo Auctions, Rakuten, Amazon Japan or at the Pokemon Centers in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo-Bay (Chiba) and Yokohama please contact us for Pokemon Go orders.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.

Pokemon Go items available on Amazon that do not ship overseas (which we can purchase for you ) include Cosplay items, cute soft toys and a range of smart phone holders for your bike.

Pokemon Go Merchandise In Japan.


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Friday, July 22, 2016

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba

The Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba is one of the best hotels in Tsukuba located right in the center of the city near Tsukuba train and bus stations. The hotel consists of the main building and an annex, which also hosts the hotel's pool, which is open to visitors and requires an extra charge for guests.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Ibaraki.


Rooms at the Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba are clean and spacious with good Wifi. There are free complimentary English newspapers, a spacious lobby with business services and a beer garden in the hotel car park in summer.

The hotel offers two restaurants: one serving Japanese food, the other Chinese-style.

The location of the hotel couldn't be more convenient as it is located right at Tsukuba Station with bus and train connections to Tokyo and further afield.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.

The Okura Frontier Hotel is popular with foreign visitors for conferences and vacations. The hotel is connected to the Tsukuba Center Building which has some excellent dining choices including the recommended Spanish-style restaurant, Bond. In the nearby Bivi Building try the Saza cafe for excellent coffee and quiche.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba, Japan.


Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba
Azuma 1-1364-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0032

Just a little to the south of Tsukuba Station near Takezono Park is the 4-star Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba Epochal.

Okura Frontier Hotel Tsukuba.


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Monday, July 18, 2016

Brazil Festival in Tokyo 2016

The Brazil Festival is an annual summer event in Tokyo, at the always buzzing and crowded Yoyogi Event Plaza, across from big, sprawling, action-packed Yoyogi Park, and right next to the Yoyogi National StadiumFestival Brasil 2016 happened there again last weekend.


The Tokyo area has a large Brazilian population, much of it in quite rural areas. The Brazil Festival, held here every summer, is where they all come together and celebrate brasilianismo.

The festival was held over two days, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was the better-attended day, maybe because the next day, Monday, was a national holiday, Umi no Hi (Day of the Sea).

It was a festival in the true sense of the word, with food galore, drink galore and music and dancing everywhere. Not to mention the costumes. That bewitchingly Brazilian mix of skimpiness and uber-decoration was on full display, and sartorial expressiveness was a hallmark of the event.

The food included churrasco, from the nearby Barbacoa Grill on Omotesando Street, as well as coxinha, acai, and pastels, to name a few.


Dozens of stalls represented the numerous Brazilian-run and Brazil-oriented businesses in Japan. One of the most popular was the Brastel Remit money remittance stall, near the pedestrian overpass to Yoyogi Park. The Brastel booth was fitted around with jets that emitted a fine cooling spray, encouraging people to tarry a while in the mid-summer heat of the day.

The music stage was an all-day blend of every genre from rock to pop to a cute song and dance act featuring the long-running Brazilian children's cartoon, Turmo da Monica.

Nationality, too, was just as varied as everything else on the day, with people from dozens of countries imbibing the exuberant,
uniquely Brazilian atmosphere.





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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Japan News This Week 17 July 2016

今週の日本

Japan News.
Emperor Akihito of Japan Plans to Abdicate Throne, Broadcaster Says
New York Times

Japan PM Shinzo Abe claims victory in parliamentary election
BBC

Japan could change pacifist constitution after Shinzo Abe victory
Guardian

Views from Kyoto: What does the future hold for hemp in Japan?
Japan Times

Are Asia’s Energy Choices Limited to Coal, Gas or Nuclear?
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Japan spends very little on public education. A trip to any public school makes this clear. However, in a comparison of OECD member states, it becomes even clearer how little Japan spends.

For example, Japan spends 0.5% of its budget on tertiary education. In comparison, the United States spends 1.4%,  the Netherlands the same 1.4%.

Only tiny Luxembourg spends a lower percentage of its national budget than Japan.

Source: OECD

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

K’s Hills: a Classic Osaka Gay Bar Experience

ケイズ・ヒルズ  ゲイバー

Some bars try to be all things to tall people, be it vibe or orientation. K’s Hills, a bar in Osaka’s Doyama gay area, makes no such efforts. It does what it does well, with class, and with no apologies. With a location just a few minutes’ walk from Osaka or Umeda stations, K’s Hills is easily accessible. Add in the friendly and caring staff, and you’re bound to find it easily approachable too.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka where a warm welcome awaits.
K Hill's in Osaka - a warm welcome awaits

K’s Hills has seating for about fifteen, though if you’re willing to get a bit cozy, a few more can probably find a place rest their butt. They’ve got karaoke, which is free on weekdays, but may run you 100 yen or so per song on weeknights. That said, a nice smile just may get that charged waived.

Since this is a more premium gay bar/lounge experience, you are going to be the beneficiary of attentive, finely honed service, but this also naturally means you will pay more than “shot bar” prices. Figure on 1,600 yen for your first drink (it will come with a little snack too), and 700-800 yen per drink after that.

K's Hills is a gay bar in Osaka with a loungy vibe.- and no smoking.
Loungy (but smoke-free) K's Hills

K’s Hills has been in business for over fifteen years, so you know they are doing something right. With about 70% of their customers being regulars, it’s just the right mix for conviviality without the potential to exclude first timers. On weekdays, women accompanied by men are permitted, but on weekends K’s Hills is a strictly gay male affair.

With karaoke crooning and all, K’s is a laid back affair. Nice to come to by yourself, or with a small group of friends. In the case of the latter, bottle service is a tempting, and potentially economical option.

While of course any age is welcome (the bar owner and manager is in his 50s), it can be said that the bulk of the clientele is in their 20s to mid 30s.

K's Hills is a non-smoking bar.

The entrance to K's Hills gay bar in Osaka.
The entrance to K's Hills - gay bar in Osaka

K’s is located at 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, on the fifth floor. You can see their name on the big bright sign showing the building’s tenants from street level.

K's Hills
5/F Nakadori Building, 16-12 Doyama-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan

Hours: 8 pm - 4 am on weekdays and till 5 am on weekends.

K's Hills on Twitter

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