Plain Talk


What a wonderful (Japanese) word!. by Olga Kaneda

The Japanese have many interesting words for different life situations. My first impression was that they would have shortened all long words and expressions if they could. Then I understood that there are many words made of kanji combinations as well. Let me walk you through my collection such words. I think they reflect the Japanese lifestyle, or at least everyday life.

Hoshippanashi, or leaving the laundry to dry outside. It means leaving it outside when you go out and can’t take it in case of rain, not just the fact that the laundry is outside. On TV they always recommend or don’t recommend doing it every morning depending on the weather, it is called the “hoshippanashi forecast”. If they don’t recommend hoshippanashi on TV because of unstable weather, you can always go with heyaboshi, drying your laundry inside. Heyaboshi is a big thing in Japan, where most people don’t have laundry dryers.

Otohime is another part of daily life in Japan. You need it in a public restroom to save water and, most importantly, your dignity. Literally it means the “Sound Princess”, and it is actually a melody or flushing sound played by a Japanese toilet. The custom presumably dates back to Edo period, although the sound was used only by nobility. However, most women say that they are more concerned about not making other people uncomfortable then saving face.

Tachiyomi means reading while standing. It is very common to read in convenience stores, bookstores, and other places where they have manga, magazines and books for sale. You don’t buy, just browse through. Anyway, it may be better then tsundoku, buying books and never reading them. I suspect that it is because most of the Japanese have a very unhealthy work-life balance, where the only option to read books in on the train. The bugger is that it is often too crowded and you can’t hold a book, or you are too tired and just sleep (usually standing).

Hinatabokko means basking in the sun, and so far it is my favorite. It reminds us of the fact that the best things in life are free. I like even the sound of this word.

Anaba is another word which brings back good memories. It is very important to know some anaba in a crowded Tokyo, because they are little-known but cosy places where you can forget about the hustle and bustle of a big city.







Plain Talk


Going Virtual:
An Inside Look at Tokyo’s Biggest and Best Virtual Reality Game Center
by Limarc AmbalinaAkino

For tourists and Tokyo natives alike looking for a reasonable place to enjoy some interactive entertainment, VR Zone Shinjuku is the place to be. Located in the soul of Shinjuku, VR Zone Shinjuku is a short, 1-minute walk from TOHO Cinemas in Kabukicho. The site is the “Tokyo Disneyland” of video games and provides the best and most powerful commercial virtual reality gaming experience available on the market. For anime lovers, there are games inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam, Ghost in the Shell and my personal favorite, Dragon Ball, a game in which you can live out your childhood fantasies of blasting a KAMEHAMEHA straight from your own hands.

If anime isn’t your thing, try out the slopes on the Ski Rodeo, a Steep Downhill Ski Simulator, or test your courage on their Winged Bicycle experience. For the strong-hearted, there is an Immersive Horror Room called the Hospital Escape Omega, an experience so scary that the screams of players can be heard all the way from the site’s main entrance. Perhaps the most popular attraction of them all is MARIO KART ARCADE GP VR, a full-fledged Mario Kart game in which the player takes the role of Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Yoshi in a winner-takes-all race filled with turtle shells to throw, bananas to drop, and hammers to whack your friends with on the way to the finish line.

Furthermore, the site offers an interactive indoor rock-climbing experience, as well as a waterfall waterslide! Also, there is a Panic Cube escape room in which players looking to test their brain can solve puzzles to escape the prison cell before time runs out. If you’re feeling thirsty or famished after a long day of gaming, you can visit GLAMPER’S, the on-site Virtual Café & Diner which offers a great selection of burgers, fried foods, pasta, drinks, desserts and so much more. VR Zone Shinjuku has something for everyone and English speakers will delight to know that there are English instructions available for every game and activity.
Moreover, on-site staff possess enough English fluency to explain the details of every game and guide you through it if you’re having trouble. Perhaps the best thing about the site is their relatively low wait times. Compared to Tokyo Disneyland, where I waited 45 minutes – 2 hours in line for virtually every attraction even during weekdays, wait times at VR Zone Shinjuku were much more reasonable. During a normal weekday, wait times for most games were 0 – 45 minutes on average. Monitors are available all over the site to view the current wait time for every attraction. For your next weekend off or night out, my advice is skip the long lines of Disneyland and head to VR Zone Shinjuku to experience a futuristic virtual gaming experience like no other.



What’s App With You?


Five Nights at Freddy’s

Welcome to your new job at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, where kids and parents alike come for entertainment and food as far as the eye can see! The main attraction is Freddy Fazbear, of course; and his two friends. They are animatronic robots, programmed to please the crowds! The robots' behavior has become somewhat unpredictable at night however, and it was much cheaper to hire you as a security guard than to find a repairman. From your small office you must watch the security cameras carefully. You have a very limited amount of electricity that you're allowed to use per night (corporate budget cuts, you know). That means when you run out of power for the night- no more security doors and no more lights! If something isn't right- namely if Freddybear or his friends aren't in their proper places, you must find them on the monitors and protect yourself if needed! Can you survive five nights at Freddy's?

Make a Zombie:

Millions of little zombies in your pocket! You can choose from the included backgrounds, bodies, clothes, eyes, hairstyles, heads, pair of legs and mouths to create your very own zombie! There are so many choices and literally you can create millions and millions of unique zombies and unleash them by email, share them on Twitter or Facebook or save them to your disk directly from the app! Build your own zombie army for this Halloween!


Tokyo Voice Column


The Touch electric by Mardo

I miss manual controls. Everything these days has a microchip in it, whether it needs one or not. I know for a phone this makes sense. You want more screen so you have a touch screen to press numbers. I still find though my ear touching the screen can hang up a call. Notice we still call it hang up the phone, even when most phones no longer have anything to hang.

I find it most annoying when I am driving. My radio, does not need a giant touchscreen. My radio is not showing me pictures, just the station name, time and volume. I don’t need an 8 inch screen with all the options from mode, to volume on it. This is a safety thing for me. When I am driving, if I need to turn down the radio, I don’t want to have to look at it. With a knob sticking out I could use muscle memory to reach over, turn down the volume and still drive safely. Nowadays, if I am a fraction of a centimetre, off nothing happens, or worse, I have clicked the button to change to CD instead!

Sometimes even with my phone I have to press two or three times to make something happen. I don’t need this on a car radio. Buttons, dials, knobs etc, are easy and they work. I like having a physical thing to control. Humans are a physical being. We shouldn’t have to lower ourselves to touch screens if there is a better way.

And there is! Real handles, and controls! I have never had a physical doorknob fail without warning. But in a power outage or just with a malfunction, I have seen digitally controlled doors not open. Sometimes we have gone to far, and touch controls are a good example, but have we learnt from this? No, next we will no doubt have thought controlled devices, I hope your mind never wanders!


もっともわずらわしいのは、運転中だ。ラジオには巨大タッチパネルは必要ない。僕のラジオは、絵柄ではなく、ステーション名、時間、音量で操作するものだ。オプションで8インチパネルは必要ない。安全面で僕は言っている。運転中、ラジオの音量を下げたい時、パネルを見て操作するなんて事はしたくない。つまみなら手を延ばせば感覚で音量を調節でき下げる事ができる。しかも安全に運転は続けられる。今や、ほんのわずか触っただけでは、何も変わらない。最悪の場合は、ちがうボタンに触ってしまい、CD モードに変わったりする!



Strange but True



A woman from Oregon thinks the letter she found in a Halloween graveyard kit from Kmart is authentic. In the letter, the author pleads with the outside world to try to put an end to inhumane work environments and labor camps in China. "If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Rights Organization," the letter reads. It was written by a Chinese factory worker who claimed he and others were tortured and enslaved in a forced labor camp making toys 15 hours a day with no pay or days off. He went on to plead for the letter to be forwarded to the World Human Rights Organization. The woman did just that, and the Chinese worker was freed when the camp was exposed months later.

There's a head at the garage!

Halloween arrived early in one part of Tennessee and sparked a panicked 911 call to police. This guy's’s Halloween display of a man who’d been decapitated by his home’s garage door was so life-like that his neighbor reported what he thought was a dead body to the Sheriff’s Department. Deputies showed up at the house and soon determined that the “body” was a Halloween decoration that the homeowner had put out more than a month early. The department shared the above photograph of the display to Facebook soon after, and warned residents not to “call 911 reporting a dead body.” “Instead, congratulate the homeowner on a great display,” it added. Most of the department’s followers appeared to appreciate the super-realistic exhibit.