Plain Talk


Balancing Work and Life by Hiroko

Let’s face it. I’m not a career-oriented person. I have taken it easy at work, and when something annoying to me happens, I simply quit and foud a new job elsewhere. That’s why I’ve job-hopped so many times and failed in climbing up the corporate ladder or something like that. I don’t care.

The deskwork I do at the office now is boring. Why do I work there as a temp then? Because I can bike to the office within 10 minutes, the hourly pay isn’t too bad, and usually I don’t have to work overtime. I take off for home as soon as it’s 5:30 p.m. and arrive home well before 6:00 p.m. I flop my bag on the floor, wash my hands, then drag a dining chair to our bedroom. I close the door and windows tight, then switch on the digital piano. On average, I practice on the piano for an hour every day.

I took piano lessons for five or six years when I was a child. But after I got badly tired of it and quit, I shunned the piano altogether for years. It was when I attended university in Canada that I went back to the piano. To relieve stress from having to manage everything in English, which is a foreign language to me, and to soothe the solitude I felt, I took to playing the upright piano in the hallway in a small college building. Its lid was always unlocked and no one complained when I played on it. I obtained sheets of Debussy’s Arabesque No.1 and practiced it.

Ever since, Arabesque No.1 is special to me, and I often play it at home. It gives me peace of mind. Others I practice now include Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu. The cross-rhythm is technically difficult to me to begin with before considering musical expression, and I enjoy the challenge. A small piece from “Liet Ohne Worte” (Songs without Words) by Mendelssohn and Chopin’s Minute Waltz are good for a warm-up. Playing them one by one, an hour flies away.

If I had to travel an hour to work or put in overtime every day, or if I had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities at work, playing the piano every day as I do now would be impossible. I also like reading books, writing articles (like this one) and browsing the Internet. I’m the household’s main cook as well, though unskilled. I’m glad that for now I have time for all that.

It’s about prioritizing your life. I feel good about having my own little income. But piano and other things in my private life is higher on my priority list than work. The work-life balance is just right for the moment.
Copyright (C) 2015 Hiroko. All rights reserved.





自分の生活に優先順位をつけるということだ。少額ながら収入があることは結構だと思う。しかし、今は仕事よりピアノや他の私生活の活動の方が私には大切だ。今のところ、ワーク・ライフバランスは上々といったところだ。Copyright (C) 2015 Hiroko. All rights reserved.

Plain Talk


Dr Masaru Emoto (1943-2014): A catalyst of Awakening
by Paul Stewart ~

We live in a world of contrast and seeming contradiction. These observations are so in-our-face at times, it’s challenging to think straight. However, it is also a very stimulating time with our interconnectivity becoming more and more apparent and our personal power and conscious choices becoming more and more pivotal. The undeniable truth that we create our own reality through focus, becoming widespread knowledge.

Japanese Scientist and Alternative Medicine Explorer, Dr Masaru Emoto passed away in 2014 but not before leaving a legacy of writings and sharings that stimulated people all over the world. Born in Yokohama in 1943, he came from a background of International Studies and later, Alternative Medicine. In the early nineties he took a particular interest in water. His work received varied reviews from harsh criticism to high praise as a service to humanity.

It’s difficult to progress the scientific field without considering the vibratory nature of life. All things and non-things are vibrations. Consider sound. A vibration translated through the anatomy of the ear. Colour. Vibration interpreted via the retina of the eye. Emotions. We talk about feeling up or down. These are the higher or lower vibrations that guide us into things that feel as they do. It’s kind of an internal guidance system that lets us know where we are at and prompts us into our expansion. We might say “I feel light” as we are in harmony with our true nature and one can easily imagine all our cells vibrating and being illuminated. Of course, light is vibration too. No doubt this exploration into vibration through alternative medicine awoke Dr Emotos interest in the subtle. He had the belief that the human heart mind, could affect the physical. It could change the molecular structure of water. This is fascinating when we consider that the human body is over 75% water. That's quite an impact that our thoughts have over our personal vibration. It’s often said that the world is a mirror. So, by changing our personal vibration, we see a different reflection.

The body of Dr Emotos famous work included photographs of frozen water molecules revealing crystalline structures varying in form depending on the source of the water. For example, the comparison of water from a mountain spring and a municipal town supply from a tap. There were experiments showing effects on such molecules when human thought and feelings were directed to them through focus. His book, ‘The Hidden Message Of Water’, was a New York Times best seller. It seemed to touch the hearts of people that were open to enjoy the possibilities beyond a science mentality that has been mainstream and limited. It excited those that understand personal power and the mechanisms of soul, mind and body and our inherent power in connection with everything. The experiments open our interest in quantum physics and mystical wisdom at a time that we feel receptive.

Described as a “mystical treasure” by author Carolyn Myss (Anatomy of the Spirit), Dr Emotos teachings also suggested the use of hemp to assist the detoxification of the Fukushima area affected by the nuclear meltdown. It has proven to be extremely effective at Chernobyl and in neighboring Belarus.

Unfinished business


I Did It! by David Gregory

She had been here before. But, those were tour-guided or hand-held visits. After living most of her life in white-bread suburban USA, driving everywhere, shopping in giant malls and supermarkets, and needing only one currency and one language, my mother ventured out on her own, within and beyond Chiba, during one trip to Japan. From her notes, here are Dorothy’s...

Grocery Shopping in Neighborhood―Walk five only one bag...walk five blocks back. Survived it!

Shopping in City Center―Walk six blocks to bus stop. Ride bus fifteen minutes. Arrive at stores. Walk around. Look. Decide: cookies.

Buying: “Ikura desu-ka how much?” Hmm. “Kakimasu kudasai write please.”

Paying options: give large bill, let clerk figure change, or open change purse, let clerk take out correct amount. Decide to just give some cash.

Clerk shakes her head (“NO! MORE!”), then counts out correct amount needed from register and shows me. I mimic her action from my change purse. Smiles! Deep bows with many, “Arigato gozaimasu thank you very much!”-es.
(My error: thought there was decimal point in Yen price....)

Open cookies, expecting pirouettes with chocolate centers. Instead, peanut butter waffle rolls, no chocolate. No wonder, now I see peanut sketch on package. “Shoganai can’t be changed,” I did it to myself. It could have been worse!
Travelling to Visit Friend’s Family on Other Side of Chiba―Walk ten blocks to train. Purchase ticket. Electronic lady on ticket machine screen says, “Arigato gozaimasu” and bows. Ride train twenty minutes, watching for correct stop, get off, walk seven blocks to house. I did it myself!

Visiting Hisae Overnight―My Japanese study partner in USA returned to Japan, now lives on other side of Tokyo Bay.

Take large purse and large tote bag with jacket, nightie, toothbrush, cosmetics. Walk six blocks to bus stop. Ride bus to train station. Ride train eighty minutes to Yokohama. Find correct exit from station. EASY. Did not even look at note in pocket explaining route and Japanese signs. And, look! Hisae and three-year old Kei are waiting! “Hello!” they say! Many hugs!

I did it!

Then, still more travel: train together fifteen minutes, short taxi uphill to lovely apartment, sunny and bright.

Returning to Chiba, just reverse process. Next time, we can meet at a station halfway in between. I can do it.
I can do it!

Copyright (C) 2015 David Gregory. All rights reserved. Chiba, Japan

Book Revi]ew


Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras
By Leza Lowitz
Stone Bridge Press, 2015, 264 pp., \2251 (Paperback) /\1489 (Kindle)

Reviewed by Allan Cook

“Here Comes the Sun” is the autobiography of Japan based American writer Leza Lowitz. Born in San Francisco, Leza now lives in Tokyo with her Husband Shogo and their adopted son. Published on June 6th and printed by her home-state publishers Stone Bridge Press the novel is the journey of a woman in a foreign land in search of love, motherhood and ultimately of finding herself.

Hailing from one of the world’s most Asian and Japan-centric communities with about a half-million Japanese and over 5.5 million Asians, Leza, as all Californians, grew up in a deeply multicultural society with a deep Asian influence. With such deep connection to Asia and especially Japan it was no surprise that 1989 saw her first stint at life in Japan when she lived here in Tokyo until 1994.

Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras
By Leza Lowitz
Stone Bridge Press, 2015, 264 pp., \2251 (Paperback) /\1489 (Kindle)

In that time, Leza worked as a writer and literary translator utilising her knowledge, experiences and passion for Japan, by writing for the Japan Times in addition to lecturing on American literature at Japans most prestigious university, Tokyo University. Lowitz's translations included haiku and tanka a task that ultimately led her to writing her own books of poetry while in America. Published in 2001 “Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By”, saw Lowitz connect her other passion, discovered in her childhood, of Yoga and her desire to write.

It was that passion for Yoga that much of her life has been devoted, and which, in 2004 led her to return to Tokyo after a decade of absence. Opening a Yoga studio in Shinagawa, Lowitz finally began to see her life fall into place as the many seemingly disconnected pieces of her life finally connected, revealing their ultimate meaning. A road that would eventually lead her and her husband to revealing their greatest gift, Shinji the child they would eventually adopt.

It is from the Sanskrit teachings that each chapter of “Here Comes the Sun” is identified through its 8 Chakra titles. In Hindu according to the tantric yoga traditions, a chakra is a location on the subtle body! That is, the psycho-spiritual body! They are points of energy, points that channel our life force. Chakra also means “to move”, and is where the words origin can be found. As with all our lives, movement, change and adaptation are constant. Ultimately “Here Comes the Sun” is the Chakra of one woman's life and the connections that lead her through it to the understanding and wisdom that comes with that movement.

Tokyo Fab


So long, and thanks for all the sushi by Joshua Lepage

Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt have noticed that TNB has been re-publishing old columns of mine for last few weeks. Every time I scroll through my dusty old articles folder, I'm surprised by just how much I've written since joining TNB. I've been with them for years now -- I've written about fashion school, movies, art, the Japanese language, shopping, and even my disastrous love life and drunken adventures. Since I moved back to Canada, though, it's been increasingly hard to write anything fun or at least relevant to you Tokyoites.

So yes, this is officially my last article. I'm stepping down. It pains me to do so, but I'm sure that in no time, TNB will have amassed a line-up of fresh-faced writers who actually live in Tokyo and can churn out much better biweekly articles than I can. My daily life in Montreal mostly involves working in a call center and moping over the snow, the cold weather, the gross sushi, and the lack of men's clothing that fits my narrow shoulders, so I promise you won't be missing out on anything exciting.

The good news, though, is that I'm still working on a way to move back to Japan. I refuse to give up, dear readers -- I just need to save up some money and get that JLPT 1 out of the way. If all goes well, you might run into me at a Nichome club in a year or two. In the meantime, please enjoy the hell out of that wonderful city on my behalf. Eat some basashi (my fave), visit your neighborhood watering hole to practice your Japanese on the locals, spend too much at Laforet, take long walks at 3am without fearing for your safety, visit a temple or two, and enjoy the cheap all-night karaoke.

Oh, and of course: if you have something interesting to write, drop TNB a line. They've treated me with exceptional kindness and generosity over the years, and they're terrific people to work with.

Thank you for reading about my silly opinions and adventures, guys. It's been a blast.

What’s App With You?



If you've checked Instagram or Facebook recently, chances are you've seen at least one selfie that looks like it was painted by Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso. That's because of a free app on iOS and Android called Prisma. Thanks to its bold, impressionistic filters, Prisma has quickly become the hottest photography app of the summer. The Russian startup behind the app, Prisma Labs, says that it has seen 42 million downloads since June 11 and "prismed" 1.2 billion photos. In August, Prisma added the ability to process photos offline, and the app plans to add support for video filters next.

Background Blur:

Background Blur is a great Photo Blur Focus tool. What can this tool do? - photo focus edit, blur red background effects and censor or hide faces. The zoom and magnifier tools makes it easy to select the background bits or censor bits. You can simply pick your photo from album or camera, draw a closed path to select the blurred path using the lasso tool with the magnifier and apply various stunning blur styles and other effects. The magnifier makes it easier to control. Moreover, there are more than 30 effects to choose from!


Tokyo Voice Column


Tonkotsu Time by Jay Lookyman

A friend of mine from the US sent me a mail last week: Do you know Tonkotsu Ramen?

I thought it was a joke, but then realized that he doesn't know the secret of my supreme inner happiness - Tonkotsu ramen. The greatest invention since the wheel and definitely the reason man discovered fire.

Can there be a greater fast food on the planet? Is there anything else that turns zombified burnt out wrecks into super-salarymen who can work 20 hours a day. It is the true driving force of the economy. Nature's Red Bull. Without it, Japan would probably collapse overnight.

After explaining the marvels, I asked how he knew about it. He then explained he was a on new diet to lose weight known as the Paleo or "Caveman" diet and that is how he found out about tonkotsu!

What so Cavemen liked tonkotsu too?

Essentially yes, just without the noodles.

So he goes onto explain this Flintstones Diet. The idea is that we only eat what cavemen did. So we eat meat, fat, fruit and vegetables, but avoid what they did not - so nothing farmed or processed such as wheat or rice, hence the noodles. This more organic and natural approach to nutrition apparently offers huge benefits such as increased energy and a decreased risk of diabetes and obesity due to cut in sugar, the current public enemy no.1.

Apparently the bone broth that is tonkotsu soup is full of nutrients and good fats.

Glad to see the rest of the world has caught up with this noble food. See, Japanese food really is healthy! Itadakimasu!









他の国々でもこの栄養価の高い食べ物に気づき始めたのを知ってよかった。ほら、日本食は本当にヘルシーなんだから! いただきます!

Strange but True


Lottery by Domino's!

Selena Avalos was hungry and wanted some chicken wings, so she did what any normal person would do by ordering a box of wings from Domino's. The thing is, the pizza chain got Selena's order a bit wrong − and instead of delivering some tasty meat, they dropped round a big box of cash. Selena from San Jose, California, found herself with $5,000 worth of money in her hand. She had a decision to make. Should she keep the cash and order her much-needed chicken wings? No, she put her hunger to one side and decided to be the honest person. Selena called the branch of Domino's back. Weirdly, she didn't hear back until 24 hours later. When she did however, the company came round to collect the cash. Selena's good nature and honesty seriously paid off. Even though she didn't get to keep the $5,000, she got a week worth of paid holiday and Domino's rewarded her with free pizza for a year! This isn't the first time it's happened so it could happen to you too!

Changing your profession soon?

The pizza chain has now launched an investigation into the incident in South London. This is the unbelievable moment a Domino's Pizza delivery man toppled over as he tried to do a wheelie stunt on a busy main road. The stunt on Clapham High Street was captured in a video which was posted online, prompting one Twitter user to ask: "I wonder what state the pizzas were in?" Footage of the incident, which lasts about 12 seconds, shows the driver riding up the road on his back wheel with the sound of cheering in the background, which then turns to laughter when he loses his balance and falls over. He nearly falls into the path of several drivers as he lies on the wrong side of the road as onlookers laugh. A Domino's spokeswoman said: "The safety of the public and of our colleagues is of paramount importance and this is clearly wholly unacceptable behaviour.


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