Plain Talk


The Kamakura Museum of Literature: The City’s Hidden Gem!
by Emanuela Podda Ankrom

If you are planning to visit the city of Kamakura, do not miss The Kamakura Museum of Literature or Kamakura Bungakukan. When we think about Kamakura, a coastal city in the Kanagawa prefecture located about an hour south of Tokyo, we imagine some of the city’s most famous attractions such as the Daibutsu or Great Buddha (a large bronze statue of the Buddha at the K?toku-in Temple), the temples, the shrines, and Enoshima island with its sandy beaches. However, this ancient city has so much more to offer. In fact, one day after visiting a shrine, I decided to follow the directions to The Kamakura Museum of Literature, a small museum tucked away in the back streets of Hase.

The Western-style villa with a blue roof and a 6,500 square foot rose garden that belonged to the Marquis of the Maeda clan, was built in 1936 and reconstructed in 1985 (Showa 60). The Maeda family donated the building to the city of Kamakura in 1983.The museum opened to the public in November 1985 and contains materials about writers who have lived, died or were active in the city of Kamakura. It currently displays personal effects, manuscripts, first editions, and documents owned by over a hundred writers of Japanese literature, including Soseki Natsume and Kawabata Yasunari, as well as film director Yasujiro Ozu. The villa has appeared in a scene from “Spring Snow,” a novel by Yukio Mishima.

It is definitely a pleasant surprise for those who love literature, enjoy the architecture, or would like to know more about the city’s history. After visiting the beautiful rose garden, my friends and I signed the museum’s guestbook, visited the building, and picked up some pamphlets about the museum, its writers (including the Japanese poet, translator and essayist Ryuichi Tamura), the Kamakura City Kaburaki Kiyokata Memorial Art Museum, and Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

If your travel plans include a visit to Kamakura and would like to see this hidden gem, it is located at 1-5-3 Hase, an 8-minute walk from Enoden’s Yuigahama Station and a 5-minute walk from Kaigan-dori bus stop. Its opening hours are: 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Please visit the museum’s official website for more information:



文学を愛し、洋館を好きな人なら、鎌倉市の歴史をもっと知りたいと思っている人なら、きっとお気に召すだろう。バラ園を散策した後、友人と私は、館のゲストブックにサインし、洋館を見学し、パンフレットをもらった。鎌倉文学館関連のものや、文学者(日本の詩人、随筆家、翻訳家である田村 隆一を含む)、鏑木清方記念美術館や徳川家康のものだった。


Plain Talk


Easy Day Trips From Tokyo: Kawagoe or Little Edo by Patrick Hattman

Tokyo offers its residents - Japanese and foreign alike - a multitude of activities that should satisfy any interests. Yet, from time to time, most who call Tokyo home want to briefly escape its hustle and bustle to take in the sights and sounds of another locale. One way to do so involves going on a day trip from Japan's capital to somewhere else in the Kanto region that has a lot to offer a visitor. And one such place is the city of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture.

Kawagoe was a strategic castle
town during the Edo Period (1603-1868) but its essential function through the years of Tokugawa rule was commerce. Due to its numerous historic buildings and entire neighborhoods that give the city the appearance and nostalgic atmosphere of old Edo (Tokyo), Kawagoe became known as Ko-edo, or Little Edo.

*Things to See and Do*

Honmaru Goten:
As Kawagoe Castle was important for the defense of Edo for two centuries, Honmaru Goten, the only surviving part of the castle, stands as a valued cultural asset. Visiting it is worthwhile to see a bit of the accommodations and comforts available to a castle lord in those days, and a stroll through the grounds provides a glimpse of life in general in centuries past.

The main hall of the Buddhist temple is particularly noteworthy as the only extant structure from the original Edo Castle. The temple has a long, storied history, tracing its roots back to the 9th century. It was favored by the early Tokugawa shogunate, which accounts for the presence of the former Edo Castle building. Also, located on its grounds are more than 500 Rakan statues, depicting disciples of Buddha.

Kurazukuri District:
Many people visit Kawagoe to walk and shop along the main street of the warehouse district. There are dozens of buildings in the area that were constructed in the kurazukuri style, meaning layers of clay were used for making the walls, instead of wood. Erected during the Edo Period, the structures served the dual purpose of displaying the wealth of merchants, while making their wares safer from fires.

Kashiya Yokocho:
Perhaps best translated as Candy Store Lane, Kashiya Yokocho represents a small offshoot of the Kurazukuri district. Dating to the late 18th century, there are a couple dozen shops manufacturing candies and other assorted sweets using traditional methods. They sell their products to customers from buildings in a neighborhood that is like a step back in time - allowing shoppers to experience part of a bygone era.

Standing 16 meters tall, Kawagoe's Bell Tower is probably the city's most prominent landmark because of its size and recognition. While the original structure was raised four centuries ago, the current one was put together in 1893, following a devastating fire which razed much of Kawagoe. The bell rings four times a day at precisely 6 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

*How to Get There*

Kawagoe is accessible by the Tobu Tojo Line starting from Ikebukuro and the Seibu Shinjuku and JR Saikyo Lines originating from Shinjuku. There are three stations serving Kawagoe: Hon-Kawagoe, Kawagoe and Kawagoe-shi. The attractions mentioned above are about 10-15 minutes on foot from Hon-Kawagoe, and a few minutes more from the other two stations, depending on the destination.

Tokyo Fab



Designed by Leiji Matsumoto (a well-known director and creator of several anime and manga series including Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years (1985), Uchû senkan Yamato (1974) and Saraba uchû senkan Yamato: Ai no senshitachi (1978), Jicoo offers a minimalist white interior with futuristic flair. A space age floating bar that cruises around the Tokyo Bay on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The futuristic-looking ship shuttles back and forth between Hinode Pier and Odaiba every half an hour. Enjoy their original cocktails and live DJ performances whilst drinking in the panoramic night view of Tokyo Bay.

Depart from Hinode Pier
Closest Sta.: Hinode Sta. (Yurikamome line),
JR Hamamatsucho Sta., Daimon Sta. (Toei Asakusa Line or Oedo Line)


Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

Sail across Lake Ashinoko on a pirate ship and enjoy a classic perspective of Mt. Fuji! Take a full-day tour from Tokyo to the scenic Hakone area. Step aboard a pirate ship for a breezy cruise on Lake Ashinoko, a scenic lake in the Hakone area, and is a crater lake that lies along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mount Hakone, a complex volcano. You can also ride the Hakone Ropeway, an aerial tram, up to the mountain summit for incredible views of Mt. Fuji and the Owakudani volcanic valley. Enjoy some local cuisine while you are in Hakone as well!

Boarding points: Hakonemachi-ko, Motohakone-ko and Togendai-ko
To Hakone (Kanagawa Pref.): by JP Tokaido Bullet Train or The Romance car (Odakyu limited express train)

For more details and concert schedules, please visit

What’s App With You?



Getting ready for the final before welcoming the summer holiday? And having trouble solving your math problems? Learn how to solve math problems, check homework assignments and study for upcoming exams and ACTs/SATs with this world’s most used math learning resource. Over 100+ million downloads, and billions of problems solved every month! Photomath is FREE and works without wi-fi. HOW IT WORKS Instantly scan printed text AND handwritten math problems using your device’s camera or type and edit equations with our scientific calculator. Photomath breaks down every math problem into simple, easy-to-understand steps so you can really understand core concepts and can answer things confidently. Caution: Don't try to cheat your final by using this app!!


Quizlet is the easiest way to study, practice and master what you’re learning. Create your own flashcards or choose from millions created by other students. More than 50 million students study for free with the Quizlet app each month! With the Quizlet flashcards app you can: learn with flashcards, put your memory to the test with Write, race against the clock in a game of Match, share flashcards with friends, learn foreign languages, listen to your material pronounced correctly in 18 languages, learn about science, math, history, coding and more. Quizlet can help you get ready for your exam, and is the easiest way to learn new foreign languages!

Tokyo Voice Column


Beating The Homesick Blues by Lee Neale

Japan can be lonely for foreigners, but the isolation caused by culture and language barriers, can be overcome. Staying mentally balanced here is no different than what you should be doing in own culture, you just have to make a much more persistent effort at it.

- Be proactive. Don’t let those blues get to the point where they have you beaten down. Even when you are feeling ok, make an effort to reach out.

- Social media friendships are great to have, but can be a poor substitute for real world relations. Even a very small handful of friends in the flesh, is worth more than legions of online contacts.

Other strategies include:
- Getting out of the pub more often, drinking less, and getting your roots down in your local community.

- Starting a Meet-Up group over a topic you are interested in.

- Taking up a hobby or sport, or developing one that you already have (use it as a reason to connect with others.)

- Help less fortunate people such as the homeless, elderly or disabled. Supporting people who experience even more isolation than you, can really put things into perspective.

- Volunteer to teach English in your local community centre. You won’t get paid, but your students will often invite you out to parties and events.

- Learn meditation, Yoga, or Qi-gong. Studies prove, that such body, mind and spirit activities, can significantly relieve feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.

- Spend time with animals. Volunteer to help people in your community walk their dogs, or go to a cat cafe.

- Ground yourself in nature. The mountain wilderness in Japan is major soul food.

- Start a blogging community about your life in Japan.


• 先を見越して行動しよう。ホームシックになっても、深みに自分を追い込まない。たとえ大丈夫だと思えても、そこから抜け出す努力をしよう。

• ソーシャルメディアでの交流はすばらしい。しかし現実世界で築く親交の代用にはならない。生身の友人がほんのわずかだとしても、オンライン上の大勢の知り合いよりずっと価値がある。

• バーに出かけてみよう。飲むのは控えて、地元の人たちと交わり、そこに根をおろそう。
• 自分が関心をもつものの集会に出かけてみよう。
• 趣味やスポーツを始めたり、さらに磨きをかけよう。
• ホームレス、老人、障害者の手助けをしよう。孤独感を感じている人のサポートをすることで、視野を広げよう。
• 地元の人にボランティアで英語を教えよう。収入は得られないが、教えている生徒がパーティやイベントに招待してくれる。
• 瞑想、ヨガ、気功を習おう。身体、精神、生命力を高めるエクササイズは、憂鬱、心配、不安を和らげる効果があると証明されている。
• 動物とふれあおう。近所の人の犬を散歩に連れて行くボランティアをしたり、猫カフェに行こう。
• 自然に身をまかせよう。自然景観多彩な日本の山々はすばらしいソウルフードだ、
• ブログを初めて日本のあなたの生活を綴ってみよう。

Strange but True


How to drink your coffee

The boss of an accounting software firm has revealed the simple test he uses every time he does a job interview for a new member of staff. This company won't hire anyone who fails his 'coffee cup test' as he believes it's shows more about attitude than any question possibly could. In fact anyone who fails is actually blacklisted from the company. "I will always take you for a walk down to one of our kitchens and somehow you always end up walking away with a drink. Then we take that back, have our interview, and one of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?" So for those who was let to the kitchen for a drink, remember to bring the empty duo to the kitchen!

email that works

You might think you're doing a good job of responding to everyone in a professional manner, but have you ever really stopped to think about what your messages are saying about you? Because your words really do have more impact than you know. Thankfully one creative individual has come up with a brilliant guide that everyone can follow, which she claims will help you "email like a boss". Instead of writing “I think it’d be best if we ____” start writing “It’d be best if we ____” or instead of writing “So sorry for the delay” start writing “Thanks for your patience” (I FORGOT, BUT YOU CAN DEAL). Then you'll be emailing like a boss!!


50 Shades of Yikess