Plain Talk


Fourth of July by Esteban Lopez

In America, the Fourth of July festivities are hit or miss. You only really get one shot at catching the fireworks display (on the actual day − the Fourth of July) and you might sometimes be disappointed at the outcome. So carefully researching and studying beforehand really pays off, if you are interested in attending the best fireworks display in America.

That is to say, that each city in America has their own way of attracting participants to come to their fireworks display. The last one that I attended in America had their City Mayor skydiving out of an airplane as their main gimmick. It made me wonder, if they spent so much money on skydiving, would the fireworks display be worth the four-hour wait. Sadly, in my opinion it was not.

The year before, I attended the one in Austin, Texas − equipped with their own orchestra, the fireworks boomed loudly and large. They were so loud, that they frightened my 7-year-old son. This display was amazing and I felt that the fireworks were so close I could reach out and touch them.

With this in mind, the opportunities to watch firework displays in Japan are boundless. Throughout the summer, firework festivals fill the night sky and bring a magic to the night air. Each day of the week, you can stand on the train platform and catch glimpses of beautifully orchestrated and colored fireworks burst through the sky.

The loud bursting of fireworks boom throughout the night − the “oohs and ahhs” of the audiences fills one’s ears. It’s electric and mesmerizing to catch one in person.

Mainly, the firework festival set on Sumida River is by far the most beautiful. Framed against the luminescence of the Skytree in the distance, there is no other sight to behold, than the majestic beauty of the Skytree as fireworks explode and dissolve effortlessly in the night sky.

If nothing else, make sure to not miss this particular festival, as it will be another year before you can catch it again.








Plain Talk


What happened to the so called Japanese kindness? by Mimma

The other day I made my way to a massage salon FATIMA where nowadays they do also eyelash extensions. After having done my research and calling a few time to make sure I had understood properly their conditions since some other salon make you pay an extra fee if you arrive with extension done in a different salon and want a repair. Since it they did not mention anything regarding extra fee on the phone and it was in the neighborhood, I decided for this salon. Little did I know that it was a bad choice even if conveniently located.

Upon entering the salon,I remembered, that there could be some allergy issues with the Type of glue they might be using and when asking I was told it would cost an extra 1000yen. I asked a few more question regarding their product and already noticed some annoyance by the attending staff Kikuchi San and if it would not have been for the salon being conveniently located, I probably would have left already....instead I stayed and it become one ride of a kind.

While she was doing the cleaning work I asked what would happen if I do complete Lashwork, instead of the patch test, and allergic reactions happen after that, I was told to call them the next day, drop in and they would take them all off. I quickly confirmed whether it would cost anything and she replied no. At that point I decided to go for the completion and do not waste the money on the patch test.
Well turned out I must have spoken in Chinese. By the time it came to pay the bill, the extra yen 1000 were charged. When saying, that I did not do the patch test , irritatedShe replied with: if work is done on eyelash extension from a different salon, there is an extra charge. They seemed very surprised about me raising my eyebrow and repeating that I had called twice to confirm and that it was not mentioned but at that point I just said then….Oh well, whatever, ...ready to pay, I asked for my receipt when all over a sudden, out of the blue a certain Ms Hayashi presented herself, (apparently the manager or owner) and with an absolute revolting anger and poisonous energy towards me, she started saying something about going to the hospital if there is an alley and bring a certification by the doctor. Not sure why she even would say this iIl kindly, replied with a smile: If something happens I will come here as your staff mentioned she would take it off and at that point she almost screamed. ...You go to the hospital, not here! WOOOW...what was that? I started feeling sick to my stomach from her rage that did not make any sense to me. I still maintained my calmness towards this childish tantrum, and kindly asked: What did I do to you that you are so upset with me? Hayashi san’s response in Japanese English mix: “Anata wa, claimer, desu. Kono omise modotte hoshukunai...”, basically saying I am a complainer and that they did not want me to come back to their shop. I was stunned and it totally blew my mind. ..She continued….you come here and ask for a discount for a patch test etc., and I was start let to hear what was coming out of her mouth. I never asked for a discount. I only confirmed what I have been told. Then it turned out to be something different. Very unprofessional. And upon mentioning that her attitude is not what I expect as a client. She continued in her screaming manner: I am honest and say it straight to you.WOOW…Never thought that being honest and straight means one must scream in rage.I do not want you to come back anymore to my salon. When I tried to reply she even added...I am gonna call the police....That was the tip of the iceberg for me of being insulted as a client.. Still calmly, I pointed out, that as a long time resident in Japan, I have never experienced such rudeness and her reply was, that she had never had a client like me and with this we parted.

Moral of the story: If you ask too many questions, even for the purpose to make things clear and and avoid misunderstandings, we are considered as rude Gaijins. If you do not ask the question and something goes wrong, it is still our fault because we did not ask. No sorry that they also make mistakes for what happened. While in our country we would try to speak in a more easy to understand language,if we see that the foreigner does not understand, here they start speaking on purpose with a more difficult terminology.


Tokyo Fab


Saori no Mori Tokyo

SAORI is a free-style hand weaving with no rules and restrictions. SAORI is an art form in which people express their true selves in weaving. There is no samples to follow, and there is no mistakes in weaving. Weavers just weave what they want to with a complete freedom and creativity. To weave fleely is not easy sometimes. We live in a world with many kinds of rules and restrictions. We are unconsciously affected by those rules and restrictions, and it often can be very difficult for us to get rid of our fixed notions and to express our hidden creativity in weaving.
Whether it is your first time or you already have previous experience with SAORI Weaving, you may drop in for a single, one-day session of weaving. Choose from a range of pre-set warps and start weaving immediately. In just 2−3 hours, you can experience the joy of SAORI Weaving and weave a small tapestry or your own one-of-a-kind scarf or shawl.

2nd floor Tsubaki Building, 5-10-2 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

For more information, please visit


Mokuhankan (Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock printing)

Woodblock printing in Japan is a technique best known for its use in the ukiyo-e artistic genre of single sheets, but it was also used for printing books in the same period. Although similar to woodcut in Western printmaking in some regards, the mokuhanga technique differs in that it uses water-based inks―as opposed to western woodcut, which often uses oil-based inks. The Japanese water-based inks provide a wide range of vivid colors, glazes, and transparency.
If you are interested in woodblock printing, now you can make your own woodblock printing at Mokuhankan!
Print Parties!
What is a Print Party? - a one-hour session for you (and friends) at the Mokuhankan woodblock printmaking workshop in Asakusa, Tokyo
What goes on? - pre-carved woodblocks, tools and all the equipment for printing is prepared. The Mokuhankan staffers will take you through the process of making your own prints from them.

1-41-8 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo - Nearest Sta. Asakusa

For more information, please visit

What’s App With You?


Umbrella − Daily rain alerts:

looking forward to the rainy season? During the rainy season’s confusing times, it seems everyone could benefit from a little simplicity in their lives. Umbrella answers one very important question for your day: will you need an umbrella? You can also receive a notification on days that its supposed to rain, recommending the use of an umbrella. You choose the time and days of the week. It works even if your device is set to idle and the application closed. Weather forecasts are available for over 7 million places worldwide. Precision is right down to where you are standing.

Step Out! Smart Alarm Clock:

As the name “Step Out!” implies, the only way you can turn off this alarm clock is STEPPING out of your bed (you still can snooze for a limited duration). It uses advanced image recognition and step tracking technologies to check whether you’re far away from your bed. After ringing, the app asks you to capture another photo of a specified place, it should be where you usually are every time you wake up, such as the bathroom, the kitchen etc. So you just take a photo and go about your routine like washing your face or preparing breakfast. It’s simply a smarter alarm with no additional action. You’ll love using it from the very first time.

Tokyo Voice Column


Dialing Back the Years by Jeremy Moorhead

It was a world away from here; Ireland and the dawn of the 80’s or what I now pompously like to call the golden age of telephony. Specifically; my golden age of telephony. We’d been without this wonderful instrument for around 4 or 5 years. It didn’t matter at the time because I was fearful of speaking to people, in general, so any phone calls were intercepted by the parents. That all changed, utterly, when the new phone was installed. I took to it like a pig to a trough. I hogged it.

Calls to mates could last an hour or three; which caused my parents no end of annoyance. Particularly as some of the said mates were literally a few doors away. But the phone was a godlike portal of communication and it was good. It was agreeable, especially, as I was an intensely shy person but the phone freed up my misgivings about having to socialise with people. I cannot stress how much it enabled me to come out of my shell and into the greater Dublin area, via the magic of the rotary dial.

As time rolled by, I must have had over 20 numbers memorised and had moved onto the phone card phase, very handy running round town when you don’t own a mobile. I detested mobiles so much so that I didn’t get one until we moved to London in ’99. It took me a year before I realised I could send and receive texts. That’s when it changed for me. Increasingly, the texts took over and the human voiced faded from daily life, getting fainter as the years went by. Nowadays, especially here in Japan, there’s a myriad of ways to contact your friends and family; which is magnificent in many ways but it doesn’t feel the same. I miss phone conversations. Somehow, whilst nice and always appreciated, a smiley face just doesn’t suffice.

That said, we’ve just hooked up an old, rotary dial telephone upstairs so we don’t have to risk injury to our old bones, slamming down the stairs to answer the main phone. It’s very retro and ironic, I’m sure but when that relic from 40 years ago ring rings; I smile. It takes me way back to special times. Even if I can’t speak the language of the caller. Yet!






Strange but True


Finding your own kind

Dog owners may be convinced that their furry friends can recognise other breeds - whether out in the park or when one pops up on the telly. But the experts aren't so sure. In response to a reader's question, zoo director Charlotte Corney told that although there is no specific research to discover whether or not dogs can recognise their own breeds, they can't pass a mirror test. That is, they don't understand when they're looking at a reflection of themselves. So the idea that they can distinguish a similar profile in another dog is quite a big stretch. Even if man's best friend can't actively recognise its own breed, scientists reckon dogs actually have better social skills than humans.

Flying Octopus!

Drivers were left stunned as octopuses and starfish began raining down onto their cars during a freakish storm. The creatures - along with mollusks and shellfish - were sucked out of the sea and dumped along with heavy rain and hail. Photos posted on social media show the marine life stuck to car windscreens after violent weather battered the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao. The phrase "seafood rain" became a trending topic online as the photos went viral in the aftermath of a storm that left a trail of destruction. Locals were left stunned as the creatures fell from the sky. A fishy smelly hurricane is not the thing we look forward to...