Plain Talk


Are Japanese men special? by Olivia

To my surprise, when my old schoolmate found out I was living in Japan, she asked me right away: “Do women need to cover up their faces or bodies? After all, it is an Asian country”. In a way, she was right. Women in Japan don’t feel very comfortable showing off their cleavage, shoulders, most part of legs. Partly it is also inconvenient in crowded trains, and I also don’t wear just a tank top now, preferring layers. It is also convenient in summer because it protects skin from sunburns. But what strikes me the most is why my classmate anticipated that women are perceived as different creatures than men and I didn’t? Why did I come to Japan unaware that I will never be treated the same way as men are?

What strikes us Western women the most when we come to Japan is the gender inequality. After having lived here, we come to understand that men have better paid-jobs, never serve tea or coffee in a business setting, are never supposed to clean, or do any other “female” job. They are superior to women. But why? Except for the historical reasons, there must be something else. We all know that samurai were male. However, there were not only male but also female ninja, and spies etc. In the world history as well, there were times when Western women were treated as unimportant and less valuable than man. But times changed, and in the medieval times in Europe knights were known for chivalry, respect, and courtesy for women. Now in the world many women enjoy the gender equality.

There is much talk about “ladies first” レディーファースト attitude on TV and Internet, and I hope someday Japanese men will really become gallant. In the meanwhile, there are many examples of the opposite.

In a supermarket, if there is a confusion about whose turn is it at the cash register, men usually don’t let the lady go first.

On the train, healthy strong men from school boys to salaryman nap in their seats comfortably when there are women of all ages standing and looking at them. Some grannies even offer their seat to elementary school boys. I personally saw a scene where three grannies said that the boy is too cute so they sat him down and talked to him. For this, one of them had to stand up, and she did it with obvious pleasure. The boy took out his lunchbox and ate his lunch (on a crowded train!) Nobody said a word. I bet it would never happen with a schoolgirl!

Another day, an obvious high school student sat just in the only one available seat, leaving all the grannies standing. Nobody said a word either because it is mendokusai and starting a quarrel is not approved in Japanese culture.

I guess until something changes in our perception of men, nothing will change.


欧米の女性が来日して最も驚く事は男女不平等だ。日本で暮らすと、男性は給料のよい仕事を得るし、会議でお茶やコーヒーを出すことはないし、あと片付けやその他”女性的な”仕事をさせられない事に気づく。男性は女性より優っている。しかしなぜだろう? 歴史的理由を例外とすれば、なにか他の事情があるにちがいない。侍が男性だった事は誰でも知っている。忍者は男性だけでなく女性もいた。世界の歴史も同様に、欧米の女性が重要でない、あるいは男性より大切には扱われなかった時代もあった。しかし時は流れ、中世ヨーロッパでは、騎士道的精神で知られる騎士は、女性を敬い、礼儀正しく扱った。現在、世界の多くの女性が、男女平等に満足している。






Plain Talk


Winter Food In Japan: A Sampling Of Culinary Delights by Patrick Hattman

With winter's arrival in Japan comes the beginning of not only the season of cold and snow throughout much of the country, but also significant changes in what many people eat on a regular basis. Japan provides a plethora of gastronomic pleasures during the year's coldest season, and below is a sampling of those culinary delights.

Nikujaga: Perhaps best described as a Japanese comfort food, nikujaga consists largely of what the name implies: meat and potatoes. However, while thinly sliced beef or pork and potatoes make up the great bulk of the dish, the various vegetables added, and the sweetened soy sauce that it is stewed in, also give nikujaga a taste to relish.

Shabu-shabu: Good for gatherings of family and friends, shabu-shabu is a Japanese nabemono hotpot dish. The meat - generally beef - and generous helpings of many vegetables, are gradually dropped in the pot and boiled in water. Then the individual diners can select what they want and dip their selections in ponzu sauce or perhaps a sesame one. Shabu-shabu is one of numerous onomatopoeia that pepper the Japanese language, and comes from the sound of the food being swished back and forth through the water while cooking.
Oden: Sticking with nabemono hotpot dishes, oden is definitely one which will stick to your ribs in wintertime. Oden can be a feast for food lovers due to its many ingredients and how it satisfies just about any appetite. Utilizing a soy-flavored dashi broth, oden most often consists of fish cakes, konnyaku, daikon and boiled eggs, although there are distinct differences in its preparation based on geographical variations of the dish, like using a miso-flavored broth.

Yudofu: A hot tofu dish with origins in Kyoto, yudofu is simple to make and delightfully pleasant in its presentation and for the palate on a cold winter's day. For those not familiar with Japanese cuisine who think a tofu dish might be bland, yudofu is certainly not boring for the taste buds, particularly with just the right amount of kombu and daikon added during preparation.

Zosui: When someone becomes sick in Japan during winter with a cold or some sort of lingering illness requiring them to eat food that is easy to digest, zosui is often put on the menu to aid them on the road to recovery. Zosui can be likened to a rice-based vegetable soup. It is typically flavored with soy or miso and might be cooked with such vegetables and a bit of meat that add taste and do not hinder digestion.

Tokyo Fab



JAPAN NINJA COUNCIL is the world’s only official organization composed of groups including municipalities, organized with the aim to spread the culture of the Japanese Ninja, something that has long been veiled in mystery. Looking ahead to the year 2020, various groups have come together to form the council under the nationwide network of local governments, universities, tourism associations, private organizations and business institutions. The council is designed to promote tourism, culture, and to contribute to the local economy through the Ninja, sparing no effort in researching, collecting and offering the information on Ninja to others.

Ninja is the one of the most famous trademarks in Japanese history and culture but has also been very popular overseas. Japan Ninja Council will be hosting special events and activities on Ninja day. Any ninja/ninjutsu-related companies are encouraged to use and promote this special event. Our goal is to gather all ninja fans around the world and make a worldwide trend day where everyone can celebrate Ninja!

Let’s take picture with ‘Fuma Ninja-kun’!
2/1 (Fri)~2/28 (Thu) In Odawara
Ninja visual ‘Fuma Ninja-kun’ is placed in 6 places in a city. Find him and take photos with him whilst enjoying the village of Ninja Odawara!

Let’s become Fuma Ninja and visit Odawara castle!
2/16 (Sat)~2/24 (Sun) In Odawara
For a limited time, you can dress as Fuma Ninja and enter Odawara castle! Rent a costume and receive ninja card. Show your ninja card after completing the ninja mission and receive a gift!
Adult: ¥500 / Child: ¥300

Win a Ninja Experience!
2/16 (Sat) 12:30~ In Odawara
If you are interested in Ninja and live in Japan, apply and win a ninja training! Train with ‘Hiroshi Jinkawa’ and learn about ninja spirit, sword skills, shuriken and ninja movement.
Apply to win

Trecking and Training with Ninja!
2/17 (Sun) 9:00~ In Odawara
Go trecking with ninja around the fortress built by Hojo clan in Sengoku period surrounding Odawara castle! Disguise yourself as a ninja to learn mind of ninja and techniques.
¥1,000/with 1 child

What’s App With You?


St. Valentine's Love Horoscope

How compatible are you with your favorites? Perfect lovers or just friends? Love horoscope will reveal all the secrets. What to expect in the future: a wedding, only casual or just friendship? All zodiac signs are divided into four elements: Fire (Leo , Sagittarius, Aries), Water (Pisces , Cancer, Scorpio) , Earth (Capricorn , Taurus, Virgo) and Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius). You will be able to create charts, that
help to draw conclusions about the nature of the relationship. You can learn whether there is love in your relationships, what are your prospects in family life, whether you are comfortable with each other or not, and what problems may lie ahead. It’s up to you if you believe it or not.

Happy Couple - love quiz:

There's Now a Dating App For...Couples? If Horoscope is not enough, here is another app to find out how comparable you are with your favorites. Happy Couple is a quiz style app for couples where you can have fun and find out more about what your partner thinks or feels. Unlike matchmaking, Happy Couple is an app for couples wishing to strengthen their already-existing relationships through friendly gaming. By answering just five short questions a day, you can find out everything you want to know about your partner. By guessing your partner's answers and answer for yourself each day, you will trigger surprising matches ... and mismatches! Is s/he the one?


Tokyo Voice Column



A very unique celebration of love and affection in Japan happens during the 14th day of March, a month after Valentine's Day, and it is called "White Day".

White Day is an answer day to Valentine's Day. During this occasion, boys or men are expected to return the favor by giving chocolate or other gifts to the girls and women who gave a honmei-choco which in English term means "chocolate of love".

Oftentimes, the color of the chocolate is white derive from the name of the day, White Day. Other gifts, non-edible and edible, such as flowers, jewelry, greeting cards, white clothing like lingerie, stuffed toys, cookies and candies are also popular.

On this special day, department stores and supermarket chains have numerous displays of heart-shaped chocolates and other goodies reminding men in advance to purchase gifts, boxes of chocolates or any other token of love for their romantic partners and loved ones.

Apparently, this culture and tradition is heartily and cheerfully embraced and observed by every person in Japan.

Love is still, indeed, in the air after Valentine's Day.

Have A Happy Valentine’s Day,
Have A Blissful White Day, everyone!








Strange but True


Love Comes in all Shapes and Sizes Meaning

A woman has revealed her boyfriend is a plane she met at an airport five years ago. Michele Kobke, from Berlin, Germany, calls her partner - a 737-800 Boeing - 'Schatz' and says she was first attracted to his wings, winglets and thrusters. The 29-year-old claims to sleep with her "darling" every night, either with real components or a 1.6-meter model. And she says her family have reacted "quite pleasantly". Ms Kobke says she fell in love with the plane the first time she 'met him' at Berlin Tegel Airport and after nearly five years together, they plan to get married. "The last time I was in a relationship with a man was in 2011 but there was no love there," she explained. Despite receiving a positive reaction from her family about her unconventional relationship, Ms Kobke says that the long-distance element of her relationship has been difficult. But she uses components and models of the plane as a way to stay intimate with Schatz and she plans to marry him one day.

Ultimate Love...?

This man gives a whole new meaning to the words “love comes in all shapes and sizes meaning” after he confessed he dated a cockroach called Lisa for a year. Yuma Shinohara, 25, called the bug his “first love” and said though the relationship was platonic he fantasised about bedding her - either with himself insect-sized or with Lisa being human-sized. He also said that no human girl was as “hot” as Lisa and that they were “100 per cent serious” about each other. But events took an even more maccabee turn when Lisa died - and Yuma ate her. Yuma is an entomophagist, which means he advocates and practises eating insects as an alternative to meat for environmental reasons. He is well known for organising bug eating contest in his native Japan. "So now Lisa lives in my heart and continues living as part of my body."


50 Shades of Yikess