Plain Talk


Shuffling by William Livingstone

I make friends and study Japanese by playing Magic the Gathering at my local card games shops.

I go to something called Friday Night Magic every week, pitting my allied deck against top tier decks and excellent players. It's a lot of fun, and the best thing about it is I forget i'm a foreigner when i'm there- i'm one of the guys.

There is an occasional difficult card or effect, but I genererally know the key words:
senko shimasu - take the first turn, hakkai suru- destroy, suihou- exile, tapu jotai - enter tapped, stacku de - on the stack, hiku - draw shiteru- discard.

If other players have finished their games they will gather round to watch other players finish theirs. They console me when I get annihilated, they congratulate me when I win, as I do for them, and a mutual understanding is built.

We've already shared a lot together and I've learned so much about how Japanese people think, feel and react that I'm convinced this is the best place for me to really understand something big.

There are some great tournaments, and you can win some really great prizes, the 1st prize at the Nagoya tournament recently was 10,000 dollars. Tokyo has a card game shop near every major station, and often near the minor ones too. They usually have a list of events by the door and a sign up sheet near the counter.

So what do you need?

You need a deck of 60 cards that are currently used in standard play, with an optional sideboard of 15 cards that can be rotated in or out after the first game. At the start of each round you must reset these cards back into their original places (deck or sideboard).
You also need basic Japanese skills!

My two favorite shops in Tokyo are Yellow Submarine and Master's Square in Hachioji City. The best times to go are usually Friday evening or Saturday from about 4 or 5 pm. But wherever you go you are sure to make some friends.

I'm lucky to have such a nice group there, the game shuffling us together like a deck of cards.









東京で僕のお気に入りのショップは『Yellow Submarine』で八王子にある『Master's Square』だ。金曜か土曜日の4時〜5時がベストタイムだ。でもいつ行っても友達はできる。


Plain Talk


Why Going to Tokyo Disney After Six on a Weekday is Indescribably Awesome
by Jack Neigbour

There is simply no denying that Land, Sea or Air, anything remotely related to Disney is mandatorily intrinsic of good times. Anyone beginning to feel the weight of the world on their shoulders can escape the hostilities of the daily grind and immerse themselves in all things bright and beautiful. Words of caution though; there are dangers lurking beyond the peripherals of those rose-tinted glasses. A few factors that are decidedly un-fun and occasionally even threaten to poison the branded, Mickey-themed chalice.

Pick your peeve; crowds, lines, heat, dehydration or even your favourite costumed character turning feral, clawing your eyes out with foam-padded white gloves. Now imagine being spared of all that. Imagine being able to wander around freely like the king of pop in your own personal Neverland. All you have to do is wait for the sun to disappear and the riff-raff to shamble off home. Over-tired, shrieking children in tow.

Night time Disney is an entirely different animal; older, more sophisticated, better educated. Like the middle class dinner party consisting of shuffling the children off to bed, breaking out the cheeseboard and the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It’s a time to relax and take in your surroundings instead of being bombarded by them, making it primetime for an older clientele.

DisneySea in this particular area becomes a teenage wasteland. Edogawan Highschoolers gallivanting around, systematically ingesting the last of the day’s confectionary, snapping gang-signs and snatching fast-passes before leaving; girlfriends hunchbacked with bags of Kawaii, boyfriends strapped entirely of cash. Slicing themselves open in a last-ditch attempt to offer the cashier an undeniably fresh kidney.

Park attendants seem to be in a better mood in general; partially attributed to the fact their shift will shortly be ending but part of it seems that they finally have some room to breathe. With the undulating masses dispersed they can chat to each other and the older demographic of guests, maybe even use the English they were forced to learn with the non-natives. Granted it can be a little strange hearing all of your favourite characters firing hyper-speed Japanese at you but rest easy with the fact that its occasionally interlaced with a popular English quote or two.

With the longest wait for a ride being around the 45 minute mark and the average being between 5-20, all rides can be sampled and favourites can be revisited in the closing minutes before skipping out of the front gates, leaving the park attendants to fish copulating teenagers from the bushes. If that's not worth 4000 yen for an evening, you’d be hard pressed to find something that is…Scrooge McDuck.


What’s App With You?



Want to know how good you are? Need more challenging roads? This app is a must have app for tracking cycling rides and running . It uses your device’s GPS and allows you to access key stats, including average speed and distance, pace, elevation and calories burnt. If you need a bit of competition to push yourself, just add a bit of a competitive edge. Strava allows you to see how fast you can climb the “leaderboards” and how you can rate against your friends, or even pros. You can join a monthly challenge, and share your activities on Facebook and Twitter. As an added bonus: it lets you keep a log of all your rides, so yo can see your progress as well.


This cycling app tracks your workout using your phone’s on-board sensors, and provides detailed feedback about your performance. It tracks each ride and compares it with previous workouts, providing speed, distance, elevation data and so on. You can use it for running too.
It’s simple and easy to use, and does not provide too much information to make you feel confused. It also provides integration with Strava, MyFitnessPal, and of course, Facebook and Twitter. It is light on the battery and includes built-in alerts so that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to know how you’re doing. Keep your eyes on the road, your safety comes first! So install this app and enjoy your cycling!

Tokyo Voice Column


Japanese Baseball Star Hideo Nomo: Career Retrospective by Patrick Hattman

On April 18, 2008, Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo made his final appearance in the major leagues, his 12th season in a big league uniform. With eight years having passed since Nomo's career came to a close, it seems like a good time to remember his greatest accomplishments and his impact on the game in Japan and the U.S.

Nomo debuted with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1990 at age 21 and quickly established himself as one of Nippon Professional Baseball's top pitchers. With a deceptive, rotating delivery that earned him the nickname "Tornado," Nomo used an excellent fastball and wicked forkball to dominate hitters. In five seasons in NPB, he racked up 78 wins and 1204 strikeouts. He was the Pacific League MVP in 1990.

After a contract dispute with Kintetsu in 1995, Nomo moved to MLB with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a sensation in his first year, winning 13 games and the National League Rookie of the Year award. Millions of Japanese watched each of his games on TV and many journeyed to the U.S. to see him pitch in person.

Nomo would go on to win 123 games in MLB, pitch two no-hitters, and twice lead his league in strikeouts. His success in the U.S. opened the door for more top Japanese players to try MLB, like Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. And American and Japanese fans have learned to enjoy and respect the game as it is played on both sides of the Pacific.

With his combined MLB and NPB totals of 201 victories and 3122 strikeouts, Nomo was selected for a spot in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. It was his first year of eligibility and he became the youngest player ever to achieve the honor at age 45.






Strange but True


Quidditch in the sky!

Fully equipped with quaffles, goal posts, their Nimbus 2000s and a parachute, these extreme Harry Potter fans recreated a famous game from the movies and books and went skydiving at 14,000ft. Clutching broomsticks and falling rapidly to the ground they recreated Quidditch, a competitive sport in the Harry Potter story, featuring games between teams of seven players riding flying broomsticks. It is played by wizards and witches and the game can be extremely rough. Their breathtaking footage shows the players somehow manage to score a goal, getting it through the hoop. Could it become a new trend?

Dream Job?

A lady who works at this supermarket could have the best job.
This supermarket worker in Leeds gets to taste 460 spoonfuls of ice cream a month, as well as travelling abroad to visit factories. This could be the coolest job in Britain, taste testing ice cream. As product development manager at Asda, she gets to sample an average 23 different flavours every day or 460 spoonfuls every month. Her work also involves visiting 10 ice cream factories - including ones abroad - which supply the supermarket giants . She is responsible for making sure every tub of Asda ice cream meets its own quality standards. Her grandparents were Italian and came to England to set up their own ice cream shop when she was little. Her first ever job was helping her Nana to serve the ice cream to customers, so scooping for a living is in her blood, she said.



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