Plain Talk


Tasty Japanese food: Will want to avoid? by Olga Kaneda

Before coming to Japan I was a vegetarian. A vegan, to be precise; and now here I am, stuffing my face with nama choko crepe, cheesecake and a brownie, washing them down with ice matcha latte from Lawson. I keep telling myself that they are all tiny and therefore count as a one full-fledged dessert, but deep in my mind I know that this is very, very bad and I don’t know how to put an end to this. I really don’t.

Of course I stopped being vegan before I actually came to Japan, not just because I encountered delicious foods like yakiniku, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and karaage. Anyway, about two years ago I was happy that I started eating meat, eggs and fish again. It had broadened my horizons and now I know fancy fish names like splendid alfonsino (kinmedai) and how yummy squid ink fried rice (ikasumi chahan) is.

But the real problem is not the carbs, and not even the sodium, which is found in enormous quantities in such supposedly healthy foods as miso, umeboshi and noodles. It is the flavor and taste enhancer MSG, which stands for monosodium glutamate. I was taught by my mom that it is a vile substance and we should avoid it at all costs. On the contrary, Japanese people admire it tremendously and add practically everywhere. Imagine my shock when I found out that glutamate is the reason why umami (one of the basic tastes in Japan) came into existence? My Japanese husband firmly believes that there is nothing bad about consuming MSG every day and that it has nothing to do with his blood test results. Ignorance is bliss, indeed.

Please don’t bring the umami culture to Europe! I am aware that glutamate is already used there, but still… I don’t want my family back there to stop loving simple foods and become gourmets like me. It goes without saying that Japanese people will never become fat even if they consume all that sugar, carbs, meat, sodium etc. But take a look at Japanese kids and you won’t be that optimistic any longer.

For the record: I want to scream every time someone exclaims: 《Japanese diet is the healthiest in the world! How on Earth did you manage to get fat?》




ヨーロッパにうまみ文化を持ち込まないでほしい! グルタミン酸ソーダがすでに使用されているのを知っているが、ヨーロッパの家族が私のようにグルメにならず、簡素な食事で満足したままでいて欲しい。日本人はこんなにも砂糖、炭水化物、肉、ナトリウム等を口にするのに太らないと言われているが、日本人の子供を注意してみると将来について楽観的ではいられない。



What’s App With You?



MailTime is an open and mobile messenger built with email technology. It makes email as quick and easy as texting, and messaging without forcing all your contacts to be downloaded to the app. Reformatting your cluttered email threads into clean bubble chats, and separate people in your inbox from all the spam and newsletters emails. Email is about communication, not organization and they believe mobile email should look more like a messenger and not a desktop software! Their quest is to make communication more friendly and efficient! It allows you to connect to a variety of services, including Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook,, and many other services. Once connected, your emails will be organized by sender with the interface looking a whole lot like your standard messaging application. It’s free to use and a great app to pick up if you communicate through email frequently.


Having trouble sorting out all your photos?Organize your gallery photos with quick gestures! Slidebox is a photo organizer application that lets you delete unwanted photos, sort photos into albums, group photos that look similar and compare them, and more. Scroll through your photos in fullscreen and swipe up to delete unwanted photos or pick an album to sort. Compare similar/duplicate photos and quickly delete them with a swipe. It’s that easy. It also organizes your images where they are, so it doesn’t mess with the functionality of any other apps.


Tokyo Voice Column


Take Your Shoes Off Please by Dean Mejia

One of my favorite things about living in a Japanese home is that you are forced to/required to/strongly encouraged to take off your shoes before walking through. After I got used to this system I started feeling disgusted by my friends back home who walk outside on the streets picking up pee and poo particles on the bottoms of their sneakers and then drag the dirt throughout their homes without a care in the world.

I love this new cleaner way of life. Still, not all is perfect. In the Winter time, I am very careful in making sure that I always layer up properly in an attempt to keep the cold from reaching my skin. I wear double coats, triple socks, etc. This process of mummifying myself with clothing takes a few minutes and it always makes me pretty non-flexible by the time I’m ready to exit my home.

This makes it extra annoying then when, after already putting on and tying up my footwear, I remember that I forgot my debit card on the bed or I get the sudden urge to use the restroom. I don’t want to go through the whole process of removing my boots just so that I can take care of business (remember it’s difficult to bend down or kick them off because of all of my layers). I can’t go back to walking through my home with my boots on though. I would be spreading filth all around.

Depending on how badly I need what I forgot to bring with me, I’ll either (A) struggle enough to remove one boot and then just do a one-legged hop to whatever I need to reach; (B) keep my footwear on and if I can, try to reach my goal in 2-3 long strides (I have long legs and I rationalize that the quick steps won’t have me dirtying the floor as much); or (C) just forget about what I left behind and try to come up with an alternative solution while on my journey.

I would suggest that to avoid being placed in similar difficult situations you should always try to live in a place with the bathroom located near the exit. Also, consider slip on shoes instead of those with laces.







Strange but True


Dream Wedding... at Mickey D's?!

Remember going to your friend's birthday party at Mickey D's? Bride Louise "never had a Mickey D's party as a child" so she wanted to hold her wedding reception in a special place... that's right, at Mickey D's! This fast-food Mc-lovin' couple celebrated tying the knot with a very happy meal...a wedding breakfast at McDonald's. The couple invited their guests to a Mickey D's restaurant. Originally this idea was suggested by her three-year-old daughter when Louise asked her where she should have her wedding party, and she suggested to have it at Mickey D's. Since Louise never had a Mickey D's party as a child she thought she would have her own at long last. Louise's sister even created an amazing wedding cake, designed to look like a MickeyDs burger. A Big Mac meal with extra sauce and pickles was decided as the menu to mark the special day. The fast food restaurant offered to close half of the restaurant and even decorated the inside of the building free of charge.

Problems? Let me think with my two brain cells!

New research made a new discovery that snails might have just two brain cells. Sure, they are not rocket scientists and are not known for their quick thinking, however snails can make complex decisions using their two brain cells. One cell tells the mollusc if it is hungry or not while the other lets it know when food is present. Lead researcher Professor George Kemenes from the University of Sussex said: “Our study reveals for the first time how just two neurons can create a mechanism in an animal’s brain which drives and optimises complex decision-making tasks" “It also shows how this system helps to manage how much energy they use once they have made a decision. “Our findings can help scientists to identify other core neuronal systems which underlie similar decision-making processes. This will eventually help us design the ‘brains’ of robots based on the principle of using the fewest possible components necessary to perform complex tasks.” If two brain cells can do complex things like integrating information about both its external environment and internal state, imagine the things humans could do if we used all our brain cells!



Guesthouse Tokyo

10 minutes to Ikebukuro.


safe and accessible solution for your accommodation needs in Tokyo.

Sakura House

1830 monthly furnished rooms at 204 locations in Tokyo.


Private furnished rooms in Roppongi, Akasaka, Azabu-Juban etc.

J&F Plaza

Furnished & unfurnished guesthouses and apartments in Tokyo.

May Flower House

Tokyo furnished apartments. Ginza, Roppongi, Yotsuya and more.

TenTen Guesthouse

33,000yen/30 days for working holiday students.


Private furnished rooms in Tokyo with free internet. Call us first or call us last!

Hassle free moving starts from 6000yen.

Tokyo Helping Hands

Very flexible working hours to effectly help you with moving, deliveries, disposal, storage and more!

AirNet Travel

We'll cut you the best air ticket deals anywhere.

Fun Travel

Discount air travel & package tours 2min from Roppongi Stn.

No.1 Travel

We go the extra mile for you. International air tickets and hotels.

JR Tokai Tours

Top-value travel to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya fron Tokyo by Shinkansen.

Matsuda Legal Office

All kinds of Visa, Immigration & Naturalization, International Marriage etc.

Futaba Visa Office

Licensed immigration lawyer & certified public tax consultant.

Coto Language Academy

Group lessons from ¥1,700 & Private lessons from ¥2,800.

iPhone Doctor

Will fix your iPhone and other smartphone at reasonable cost.

American Pharmacy

English speaking pharmacy since 1950.

Tokyo Skin Clinic

EU-licensed multi lingual doctors.

Takarada Electric

Visual equipment and home appliances.Overseas use and Tourist models.

Tokyo Speed Dating

1st & 3rd Sat. at Barin Roppongi.


The best way to meet single Japanese women. Parties held every week.


Japanese women & Western men.


Join us

50 Shades of Yikess